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Autism Collective To Bolster Central Illinois Autism Care Efforts

Dr. Divya Joshi, left and Steve Thompson, CEO of Easterseals Central Illinois
Courtesy Peoria Riverfront Museum
Dr. Divya Joshi, left and Steve Thompson, CEO of Easterseals Central Illinois

OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois and Easterseals Central Illinois are partnering to better coordinate care for people with autism.

The Autism Collective will launch next year. The two organizations will help families develop comprehensive care plans with nurse coordinators and autism family navigators. 

Easterseals Central Illinois President and CEO Steve Thompson says there are more than 6,000 children and young adults with autism in the Peoria area. He says about half of them are underserved, in part because of the fragmented care network currently in place. 

“We believe that to make a transformative change in the lives of those living with autism is to collaborate, to work together. And that is exactly what the Autism Collective is all about," Thompson said.

The Autism Collective is also partnering with ECHO Autism to help better train doctors to better identify and treat patients with autism. 

Dr. Divya Joshi is an executive at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois. 

“We are going to try to educate physicians - any clinicians. And not just within Peoria. In larger concentric circles, increase this community of knowledge," Joshi said. 

ECHO Autism uses video technology to educate local doctors. 

The Autism Collective will initially seek to serve kids from birth to age 14 in Peoria, Tazewell, Woodford and McLean counties. Therapy will be provided primarily by Easterseals. 

The group's executive director, Amanda Estes, said the plan is to eventually expand services to transitional services for teens and adults, more work with educators, and more services geared towards underserved families experience financial hardships. 

Copyright 2021 WCBU. To see more, visit WCBU.

Tim Shelley is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.