U of M Health's new Voyager Clinic already helping patients with autism

January 17, 2019 06:56 PM

University of Minnesota Health is working to make it easier for Autism Spectrum Disorder patients and their families to find support and connect with state and local resources.

Its Voyager Clinic in Minneapolis has only been open for 10 days. But 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS got an inside look at how it's already changing families' lives.


According to Minnesota Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, one in 42 children in the state have an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis. That's higher than the national rate of one in 59 children.

The clinic is a new, integrated experience meant to change the ease of treatment for those children. 

"We designed this space in a lot of ways to reduce stress for parents and kids," said Dr. Amy Esler, a psychologist with University of Minnesota Health.

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The clinic brings together experts in six different areas under one roof. That includes neuropsychology and development-behavioral pediatrics.

"This just allows us to coordinate more closely," Esler said. 

University of Minnesota Health doctors said another kery to the clinic's success are three different waiting rooms from which to choose depending on a child's sensory needs.

"With kids with different activity levels and processing, I mean we can lose them from the waiting room to the exam room in terms of their behaviors," said Dr. Christopher Boys, a pediatric neuropsychologist.

Now a teenager, Danny Keck has been treated for autism since he was two.

"I actually really enjoy it," he said of the new clinic. "It actually makes me feel more comfortable."

The Voyager Clinic also shortens the time-consuming application process for support and resources.

"When he does have the different tests, and all of the forms, being able to know that it's coming to one place, and then they divide it...It really helps," Danny's mother Dawn said. "Instead of knowing  'Oh, I gotta do this over here, and this over here, and this over here.'"

Rather, the Voyager Clinic allows parents to take their kids on an expedition that's right for them.

"It makes me feel really happy, that I got to be here," Danny Keck said.

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Brandi Powell

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