How We're Changing Lives

Patients & Caregivers

Lucca's story: getting needed, personalized care. 

When Lucca Tunis was born, his parents were delighted. But as time went on, they began to worry: he didn’t smile, play, or react when they spoke to him. As his mom, Cathy, says, “Lucca was happy, content, to just sit and stare.” Cathy and Mario, Lucca’s father, knew something was wrong, but their pediatrician said they should “wait and see.”

Fortunately for Lucca, the Tunis family did not take that advice. They were able to connect with Geisinger neurodevelopmental pediatrician Tom Challman, MD, who diagnosed the 16-month-old toddler with autism spectrum disorder. That was a little over two years ago. Since then, Lucca has been receiving intense behavioral therapy in addition to physical, occupational, and speech therapy. And he’s getting the personalized care he needs. “He’s working hard and starting to communicate,” Cathy says. “He’s a smart, beautiful boy.”

The solution for children like Lucca:

Geisinger's Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute combines Geisinger’s premier patient care expertise and translational and clinical research capabilities with Bucknell University’s premier undergraduate educational and research programs to create a national model for the diagnosis and treatment of autism and related developmental disorders that:

  • Trains professionals to screen children more efficiently and educates others to develop a deeper understanding of the complex genetics of children with autism and other developmental disorders.
  • Augments care with case managers, as well as speech-language, occupational, and physical therapists.
  • Is developing a national model that will enable early screening and early intervention.
  • Studies the development and behaviors associated with neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders.
  • Uses innovative technology to provide insights into treatment protocols and their impacts.

The result:

The result is more specialists, new knowledge, shorter waitlists, earlier diagnoses, and personalized therapy and plans. And, most importantly, the result is children who will live their lives as fully as possible and families that are better skilled to care for them. ADMI has the potential to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of families.

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