Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center director tells Central Mass. Autism Summit ‘it requires a village’ to treat children with autism

September 23, 2015

Jean A. Frazier, MD, director of UMass Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, told the second annual Central Massachusetts Autism Summit that treating autism “requires a village,” according to the Telegram & Gazette.

The summit, hosted by HMEA Inc. Sept. 22 at Assumption College, focused on how employers can support employees who are parents of children with autism. The Telegram &Gazette and Worcester Business Journal reported on the discussion.

“This is by far one of the most challenging disorders to treat,” Dr. Frazier said, the Telegram & Gazette reported in a Sept. 23 article. “It requires a village and it’s expensive.”

“I can tell you, as a provider, it’s important to have that village,” Frazier told the summit, according to a Worcester Business Journal article.

Frazier said that besides autism services, 75 percent of children with an autism spectrum disorder also need treatment for emotional, physical or behavioral problems, according to the Telegram & Gazette.

Because of the complex needs of children with autism, employers and the community must support families affected by the disorder, the Worcester Business Journal reported.

Children with autism are at higher risk for such physical conditions as allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, seizures and asthma, along with psychiatric diagnoses, Frazier said, according to the two publications. She cited a survey in which 81 percent of parents of children with autism said their children’s health problems were often overshadowed by the autism diagnoses and weren’t being adequately addressed, the Telegram & Gazette reported.

“Coordinated care is absolutely essential for individuals on the spectrum and their families,” Frazier said, the Telegram & Gazette reported.

Frazier, an expert in child psychopharmacology and child and adolescent neuropsychiatry, is the Robert M. and Shirley S. Siff Chair in Autism, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics and vice chair and director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UMass Medical School. Frazier and her research team have been involved in clinical studies on the underlying causes of developmental, emotional and behavioral disorders in youths.