With the ever-increasing prevalence of mental health disorders worldwide, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Arizona’s Autism Center is expanding its service model by using the latest evidence of comorbid psychiatric disorders to better address behavioral and mental health concerns for individuals living with autism spectrum disorder.
Among the changes, Devereux Arizona is enhancing its mental health screening process – as part of its Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) service model – by addressing the need for assessment and treatment of comorbid psychiatric disorders in individuals with autism. The nonprofit behavioral healthcare organization is adding the unique approach of integrating individual counseling, family therapy and its ABA treatment approach into one comprehensive care plan, based on individual needs. In addition, Devereux will provide autism-specific counseling services, as a stand-alone service, to target the mental health needs of families and individuals served.
“The prevalence of co-occurring mental health conditions with autism tells us something needs to be done to address this treatment need,” said Devereux Arizona Director of Autism Services Michele Bishop, Ph.D., BCBA-D. “At Devereux, we want to do more to improve treatment for individuals and families living with autism. We also realize we are uniquely positioned to take immediate action, given our clinical expertise in both Applied Behavior Analysis and counseling.”
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 54 children are diagnosed with autism. In addition, Autism Speaks data shows that individuals with autism may experience other co-occurring mental health conditions, with 30 to 60 percent diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), up to 42 percent experiencing anxiety, and 7 percent of children and 26 percent of adults diagnosed with depression.
“Co-occurring mental health conditions can compound challenges with an individual’s social-emotional development, engaging in family and community activities, and maintaining fulfilling social relationships,” Bishop explained. “By using these strategies, our multidisciplinary team works together to decrease stress and anxiety; improve parenting dynamics and family systems; and teach pro-social skills that will positively impact quality of life.”
Devereux Arizona’s Autism Center supports children and adolescents, up to 18 years of age, who are diagnosed with ASD. The center assists youth and families in the development of communication, social, and adaptive skills needed to live independent, fulfilling, productive and socially-connected lives.
Devereux Arizona began providing services in 1967 with the opening of a therapeutic day school in Scottsdale. Today, more than 50 years later, the center helps more than 4,500 individuals and their families across the state. Devereux Arizona is a Qualifying Charitable Nonprofit.
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is one of the nation’s largest nonprofit organizations providing services, insight and leadership in the evolving field of behavioral healthcare. Founded in 1912 by special education pioneer Helena Devereux, the organization operates a comprehensive national network of clinical, therapeutic, educational, and employment programs and services that positively impact the lives of tens of thousands of children, adults – and their families – every year. Focused on clinical advances emerging from a new understanding of the brain, its unique approach combines evidence-based interventions with compassionate family engagement.
With more than 7,500 employees working in programs across the nation, Devereux is a recognized partner for families, schools and communities, serving many of our country’s most vulnerable populations in the areas of autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities, specialty mental health, education and child welfare. Programs are offered in hospital, residential, community and school-based settings. They include: assessments; interventions and support; transition and independent life services; family and professional training; research and innovation; and advocacy and public education. For more than a century, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health has been guided by a simple and enduring mission: To change lives by unlocking and nurturing human potential for people living with emotional, behavioral or cognitive differences.