CHOC Children’s and the William and Nancy Thompson Family Foundation (Thompson Family Foundation) recently unveiled a new collaboration that expands our region’s capacity to serve children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families. The Thompson Autism Center at CHOC Children’s, named in honor of a $10 million founding gift, will be devoted to evaluating children as early as possible to promote better outcomes; engaging children whose behaviors diminish quality of life for them and their families; and establishing a long-term support system for children with complex care needs.
Set to open in early 2019, the Thompson Autism Center will also, through a partnership with Chapman University, assist families in navigating the education system from preschool to college. In support of the Thompson Family Foundation’s vision to bring hope to children with ASD and their families, the Thompson Autism Center will participate in national research networks.
“A national leader, the Thompson Family Foundation has earned a stellar reputation for expanding services, research, education and advocacy for children with ASD and their families. We are grateful for their generous support and their commitment to enrich so many lives here in Orange County,” said CHOC Children’s President and CEO Kimberly Chavalas Cripe.
The Thompson Autism Center will focus on three high-need populations:
- Early intervention has been shown to significantly improve the development of basic cognitive, relational and communications skills; however, most children are not diagnosed with ASD until their fourth birthdays. The Thompson Autism Center will assess, treat, develop care plans and provide follow-up services for undiagnosed children, ages 1 – 6.
- Some children with ASD communicate with negative behaviors such as aggression and self-injury, resulting in physical, emotional and social impacts on them, their parents and siblings. The Thompson Autism Center will partner with families to provide a multi-tiered intervention program.
- Epilepsy, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal issues and other medical problems commonly occur in children with ASD. The Thompson Autism Center will provide comprehensive, interdisciplinary care and family support services to address ASD and its common co-occurring conditions.
“We take pride in collaborating with institutions and health care professionals who share our vision to dramatically improve the lives of children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders and their families, “said Bill Thompson, co-founder, Thompson Foundation. “Our collaboration with CHOC Children’s will complement and expand on the work already being done in Orange County, making a lasting impact on the community and bringing hope to children and families affected by ASD.”
The Thompson Autism Center will be located at 170 S. Main Street in Orange, only a few blocks from CHOC’s main hospital campus. The two-story, approximately 20,000-square-foot facility will be designed by FKP/CannonDesign, an architectural and design firm with national experience in neuroscience, brain and autism projects at children’s hospitals.