New Autism Program Debuts at CHH Center For Youth & Families

(Torrington, CT)  Charlotte Hungerford Hospital’s Center for Youth and Families has begun offering an intensive outpatient program called Connections IOP, for children and their families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and co-occuring disorders including sensory processing disorder (SPD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Anxiety Disorders.

An outgrowth of the center’s outpatient Connections Program that serves community members affected by ASD, the highly structured behavioral program serves children who have been identified as needing a higher level of care and their families, said Alison Milano, LCSW, child and family therapist with the center.

The intensive outpatient program is offered to children ages 6 to 12 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. at the center’s new location at 50 Litchfield Street.

Children affected by ASD “are taught to manage their emotions and express themselves appropriately through a wide ranges of techniques including visual tools, role playing, video modeling, music therapy and body movement therapy,” said Milano. She added that the intensive outpatient program also includes a psychiatric component, medication evaluation and management, and weekly parent involvement including parent educational/skills therapy, support groups, and multi-family groups.

More than 1.5 million people in the United States are affected by autism spectrum disorder, a developmental and behavioral syndrome that can impair social, communication and behavioral skills. The spectrum ranges from low-functioning autism with its profound impairments in many areas—to high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome—to “normal” behavior with the possibility of hypersocialization. Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has difficulty receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses. It may or may not be a component of autism.

The center’s intensive outpatient program is overseen by Gurender Sahani, M.D., psychiatrist and Joan Neveski, LCSW, clinical manager. Primary clinician Alison Milano, LCSW and clinician Mara Pomerantz, LPC, BC-DMT, are assisted by therapeutic technicians Elizabeth Whitney and Katherine Zagrodnik.

Milano noted that the program is covered by insurance, but transportation is the responsibility of the family. Parents, educators or healthcare providers may request a referral to the IOP Connections Program by calling (860) 489-3391. Children must meet clinical criteria to be enrolled either in the Connections outpatient or intensive outpatient programs.

Charlotte Hungerford Hospital is a 109 bed, general acute care hospital located in Torrington, Connecticut, that serves as a regional health care resource for 100,000 residents of Litchfield County and Northwest Connecticut. CHH offers personalized attention from an expert team of caregivers and physicians that utilize advanced technology and clinical partnerships in a convenient, safe and comfortable patient environment. One Thousand Caregivers, One Job, Your Health. Visit www.charlottehungertford.org for information.

PHOTO CAPTION: CHH Autism Program staff, from left, Katherine Zagrodnik, Joan Neveski, LCSW, Gurender Sahani, MD, , Mara Pomerantz, LPC,BC-DMT, and Alison Milano, LCSW.

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