Christian’s Compassionate Care for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Christian, a patient with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
Two-year-old Christian is a kind and loving little boy. He enjoys typical toddler activities such as playing with trucks, balls, dinosaurs, planes, and trains — trains are his absolute favorite. He lives with his two moms, Emily and Laura, and is full of energy and loves to run outside. The family enjoys walking and biking on local trails together, visiting museums and amusement parks, and going to the beach in the summertime.
When Christian’s pediatricians, Sarah Gilmour, MD, and Ashley Hall, MD, at Renaissance Family Practice – UPMC, noticed he was not yet talking at his two-year checkup, they referred him for a full evaluation at the CDU (Child Development Unit) of UPMC Children’s.
At the CDU, Christian was evaluated by Robyn Filipink, MD, and Katsiah Cadet, MD, who gave him a series of tests to assess his communication and social skills, among other things. After the doctors spent time working with and observing Christian, they diagnosed him with level 2 autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as well as global developmental delay.
This was difficult news for his moms to hear, but they say the clinical team immediately put their minds at ease.

Support for ASD at UPMC Children’s

It has been just over a month since the couple learned Christian’s diagnosis. They report that he is already engaged with a bevy of supports and services through the CDU. He is treated in two outpatient departments at UPMC Children’s each week, speech therapy and occupational therapy, which he loves. Emily and Laura share, “It has been a difficult and emotional time, but Children’s has made all the difference.”
Christian is a very social little boy, and his parents believe that despite the ASD diagnosis, and with ongoing therapy, he can learn how to communicate better. They say he loves people, and they hope that the help he is getting now and going forward will help him to interact with people in ways that are more satisfying and fulfilling for him, as well as enriching to others.

A Comfortable Environment

“Our experience with the hospital has been overwhelmingly positive. Christian loves his doctors and specialists, and we feel so very supported,” Emily and Laura share warmly. They also say that the nursing staff and other employees they have encountered have been helpful and resourceful, too. And since Christian adores trains, he never misses a chance to look at one of the train displays in the hospital.
Christian enjoys a donor-funded train display at UPMC Children’s.
Christian enjoys a donor-funded train display at UPMC Children’s.

“The spaces at UPMC Children’s are both exciting and comfortable for us. The sunlit waiting areas are spacious and interesting, with lots of places for a 2-year-old to sit or explore. Christian adores the interactive model train displays. Going there has been very positive for him socially, as he has had a lot of opportunities to interact with medical professionals as well as other children.”

The couple is incredibly thankful to the donors who give to UPMC Children’s, as this support strengthens the hospital’s ability to offer the tremendous services available to families like theirs, along with the guidance to navigate those services. “Without all the amazing staff, we would feel very lost and especially alone. They are a part of our family now, and we would not know what to do without them!” the couple says with enthusiasm.
Your donations are helping families living with ASD — families just like Christian’s. We are deeply grateful for your partnership and generosity!