As we celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Seattle Children’s Autism Center being open, Dr. Gary Stobbe shares his reflection on the evolution of our programs, and his hope for the future:

I think back to when the Seattle Children’s Autism Center was first launched in 2009, I still remember one of our first staff meetings where clinicians from backgrounds in psychology, psychiatry, neurology, developmental pediatrics, and speech therapy were all in attendance. All of us had been providing services for people with autism, but we had been doing the work in “silos.” We had dreamed of the day of working as a team, learning from each other, and coordinating care for people and families impacted by ASD. When that day was realized, it was an even better experience than we had imagined! The complexity of ASD makes this multidisciplinary approach to care essential, and Seattle Children’s Autism Center was built with this in mind. Since our beginning, we have welcomed over 4500 families through our doors, offering over 22,000 visits annually.  

Another important feature in autism care is recognizing that support needed often falls into the “uncompensated” care category. This uncompensated care is one of the reasons why Seattle Children’s is the organization in the Pacific Northwest best suited to provide autism care, as this is at the heart of Seattle Children’s mission. Partnering with our community through philanthropy and outreach means that we are on this amazing journey together, providing care for all people regardless of their ability to pay.   We simply would not be where we are today without the belief, commitment and support from our community, and for that we are eternally grateful.

We are fortunate that ASD care seems to draw a special type of service provider and clinician. The team work, the willingness to go the extra mile, the positive attitudes, and the unselfish goal of providing service and care to those in need, all brings the staff at Seattle Children’s Autism Center closely together. We feel privileged with the gift of being invited into the lives of so many individuals and their families.

In 10 years, we have accomplished so much together, yet we have so much unfinished work still ahead. I have seen so much progress towards the goal of getting everyone with ASD the care they need, yet we clearly have not met many of our goals, including the most glaring challenge of access to diagnoses in a timely fashion. Initiatives underway to address the unmet needs excite me as much as when we first launched Seattle Children’s Autism Center. I feel the future is brighter than ever, and I am thrilled to be on this journey with my colleagues, the families, and our amazing Pacific Northwest community!

A special acknowledgement and heartfelt thanks to the following staff who have been with us at the Autism Center since the very beginning;

  • Carola Meyer
  • Anita Wright
  • Jen Mannheim
  • Amber Persons
  • Katrina Davis     
  • Gary Stobbe
  • Jan Bersin
  • Felice Orlich
  • Dora Hall
  • Stephanie Pickering
  • Lindsey Miller
  • Mariam Araujo
  • Sara Webb
  • Raphe Bernier
  • Deb Gumbardo