Ohio State leads the way in specialized health care education for adults with autism

AdultsWithAutism-CAST-programThe Ohio State University has taken a bold step toward providing specialized and patient-centered care to adults with autism spectrum disorder. At the heart of this groundbreaking initiative is the Center for Autism Services and Transition (CAST), an innovative primary care clinic that caters exclusively to young adult patients, aged 18 and older, who are on the autism spectrum. CAST was created in 2014 to create safer and more accommodating services for individuals with autism. The program has since evolved into a national model that’s redefining how health care is delivered to this unique population.

“CAST is the only place in central Ohio – and one of only a few in the nation – where patients can access primary care physicians with experience providing comprehensive and often complex care for people with autism,” explains Christopher Hanks, MD, CAST’s founding medical director and a clinical associate professor of Internal Medicine at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “We have better preventive care rates, and we have lower ED visit rates than the overall U.S. population of autistic individuals.”

The tangible outcomes and success of CAST’s research-based approach are supported by three physicians, along with experienced medical assistants, a dedicated nurse, a social worker and a clinical pharmacist.

Unlike conventional health care settings, CAST understands the distinct challenges that individuals with autism face in communication, information processing and sensory sensitivity. The clinic has an innovative approach that focuses on flexible and patient-centered care that encourages patients to use their preferred method of communication to ensure their needs are addressed effectively.

Learn more about how Ohio State providing safer, more accommodating health care for adults with autism


Extending CAST’s reach to medical education learners

The success of CAST isn’t limited to its clinical impact alone. Ohio State has capitalized on this groundbreaking program to provide an unparalleled educational experience for our medical students and residents.

Recognizing the pressing need for more health care professionals skilled in treating adults with autism, we’ve integrated CAST into the College of Medicine curriculum.

Close to 100 medical students and residents have gained invaluable practical experience by working with CAST patients, equipping them with the tools and knowledge needed to care for this underserved population. This emphasis on education ensures that the impact of CAST isn’t limited to only its patients, but has far-reaching implications for the future of health care.

CAST supports Ohio State’s mission

CAST exemplifies Ohio State’s commitment to innovation, patient-centered care and education. By bridging the gap between specialized health care and mainstream medical practice, Ohio State isn’t just providing care, it’s fostering inclusivity, understanding and excellence in medical education. Through this visionary approach, Ohio State is paving the way for a future where individuals with autism receive the care and support they truly deserve for their lifetime.

Explore more stories of innovation, clinical care, education and community outreach at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.