The Autism Care Network is the first and only network of its kind focused on better autism care, delivered at scale and at speed, to improve health and quality of life for children with autism and their families throughout North America. Launched in April 2021, the Network is supported by Autism Speaks, AIR-P, the J. Donald Lee and Laurelle Lee Family Foundation and PCORnet.
The Autism Care Network is a groundbreaking shift that transforms how better care is developed, connecting the dots between families, researchers, and health care teams to continuously improve whole-person and whole-family autism care. As a learning health system, the learning begins with patient insights, which drive research questions to understand what treatments are most helpful for which patients. Then these findings are shared to providers across the Network and in local communities. This significant shift in autism care improvements accelerates research findings and gets them into provider’s offices years earlier than traditional research.
Here’s how it works: Children with autism and their families visit their healthcare provider's office. This data becomes part of an ongoing cycle of information sharing and research that turns into real life help for families – not just your family, but thousands of families across North America. And if you don’t live near a Network site, the Network partners with ECHO Autism to provide virtual learning to empower local providers with knowledge to provide the best care possible to families, where and when they need it.
Click here to learn more about the Autism Care Network.
For more than 15 years, the Autism Treatment Network has made fundamental improvements in the care of children with autism and their families. With the support of Autism Speaks and the Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health, funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, the ATN brought together leading children’s hospitals and academic institutions to develop best practices in clinical care.
The Autism Care Network is a significant shift in the evolution of the Network into a learning health system, where patient insights drive research questions and continuous learning accelerates better health care practices. By adopting innovative research methods built on real-time analysis of embedded clinical data and family priorities, the Network drives rapid and significant effects on quality care, quality of life and reach into underserved communities.
With 20 sites across the United States and Canada – and more sites joining each year – the Autism Care Network aims to address disparities in access to care. Through innovative peer-to-peer data-sharing and patient insights, people across the spectrum will benefit sooner from research findings, be empowered to reach their full potential and improve their quality of life — faster and regardless of geography.
Two of 20 Autism Care Network sites are in Canada:
Building Abilities for Life™ The Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital is the largest free-standing, comprehensive tertiary rehabilitation hospital in Canada, serving patients of all ages who require complex rehabilitation to enable them to participate in life to the fullest. As a leading-edge academic teaching hospital, the Glenrose participates in educational training programs for health sciences professionals and offers an array of research and technology development opportunities. The Autism Clinic works collaboratively with regional assessment programs at the Glenrose and with community partners serving children, youth and their families in Northern and Central Alberta as well as Northwest Territories.
Principal Investigator: Lonnie Zwaigenbaum, MD
Co-Principal Investigator: Brenda Clark
Site Coordinator/Site Contact: Shannon Mah
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital cares for kids with disabilities, kids needing rehabilitation after illness or trauma, kids whose medical complexity requires a kind of care they can’t get elsewhere. Every day, Holland Bloorview’s frontline staff embrace kids with boundless potential and their families and ask, “how can we help you achieve your goals?” With a mix of services not offered anywhere else in Ontario, they partner to provide the best interprofessional care within their walls and to prepare families for life beyond them. Through teaching and research, Holland Bloorview expands how the best care is defined and take those new insights around the globe.
Principal Investigator: Melanie Penner, MD, FRCP(C)
Co-Principals: Jessica Brian, PhD, C. Psych & Evdokia Anagnostou, MD
Site Coordinator/Site Contact: Lili Senman
"We are eager to continue our contributions to the Autism Learning Health Network (ALHN). In ALHN, we develop best practices across North America as well as tools to evaluate and improve the local care that we provide. We are particularly happy to share our own innovative practices for early recognition of autism, timely diagnosis, and supportive strategies for management including safe medication use." - Dr. Melanie Penner, MD MSc FRCPC, Developmental Paediatrician & Clinician Investigator at Autism Research Centre.
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital is proud to be entering its 6th year as a site in the Autism Learning Health Network (ALHN), which is currently funded through Autism Speaks. We have adopted ALHN’s mission of expanding care, utilizing quality improvement methodology with community-based provider networks, enhancing training for healthcare professionals and improving system capacity, and strengthening existing family support structures through family engagement.
Led by Dr. Melanie Penner in collaboration with co-PI’s Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou (Research Lead), and Dr. Jessica Brian (Behaviour Science), our team continues to introduce innovative methods of impacting change in clinical service. Given the current structure of our healthcare system in Ontario, a priority for the next two years is to expand our site’s reach to community partners. In doing so, we (and the network as a whole) will obtain a deeper understanding of how our families in Ontario and Canada can effectively move through the system and access the best care possible.