Virginia Tech clinic helps families living with autism adjust to pandemic

Virginia Tech Autism Clinic & Center for Autism Research goes from on the road to online

BLACKSBURG, Va. – With a lot of changes all at once, it’s difficult for kids and adults with autism to adjust.

In times like this, Virginia Tech Autism Clinic & Center for Autism Research isn’t a stranger to adapting to support families. A few years ago they turned an RV into a mobile clinic to adapt to families and address the travel barrier so many were facing. Due to the pandemic, assessment and therapy services are online.

The clinic and center for research did close for a few weeks at the start of the pandemic, but after realizing the pandemic was going to last longer than expected, they decided to go online. In May, they launched online services using a HIPAA-compliant Zoom.

While not having in-person therapy sessions and assessments is challenging, graduate student clinician and researcher Jennifer Bertollo told 10 News the impact of doing nothing at all would be significant.

”If we kind of cease to exist for the month, summer the year that’s all of a sudden a whole wait-list of families who really need this assessment in order to either receive an autism diagnostics or not or a way to receive information and better education and understanding,” said Bertollo.

She also mentions the clinic is seeing a lot of new clients who were on wait-lists for other centers who may have not reopened yet or don’t offer telehealth services.

This back-to-school season will only get busier. The big changes to daily routines and the switch to online or hybrid learning is sparking a greater demand for Virginia Tech’s Autism Clinic & Center for Autism Research.

“We are getting a lot of individuals with autism reaching out especially given the fact we’re in a college community and students from Virginia Tech are coming back to school there’s been a pretty good amount of kids and adults on the wait-list who have ASD and are looking for services,” said Angela Dahiya-Singh, another graduate student clinician and researcher.

If you want to learn more about what the Virginia Tech Autism Clinic & Center for Autism Research does and the resources offered, click here for kids 16 and under. Click here for resources for adults ages 17 and older.

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.