OSF Saint Francis Medical Center

Peoria, Illinois

OSF Saint Francis Adult Diagnostic Autism Clinic

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Autism as a specific diagnosis was not defined until the 1980’s, although doctors and scientists were describing the symptoms as early as the 1940’s. Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition (one seen in early development and related to brain functioning). The diagnosis reflects difficulties with social communication and behaviors.

Facts About ASD

The Center for Disease Control reports that between 1-2% of individuals have autism. Many more men than women have this developmental condition (4.5 more men than women). Autism is present in all age, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. About half of individuals with autism have average to above average intellectual abilities. Learn more from the CDC on Autism Spectum Disorder (ASD).

What is the OSF Saint Francis Adult Diagnostic Autism Clinic?

The OSF Saint Francis Adult Diagnostic Autism Clinic evaluates adults of all ages who may have an undiagnosed autism spectrum condition. The Center is run by Dr. Theresa Regan, a neuropsychologist with over 25 years’ experience, and is located at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.

Why is a correct diagnosis of ASD important as an adult?

Many adult and geriatric individuals grew up before the diagnosis of autism existed. The cause of autism was originally misunderstood. For decades, even into the 1990’s, the condition was often seen as resulting from parenting failures rather than as a neurologic, brain-based condition. A diagnosis is important because it:

  • Helps individuals understand their situation and gives them a sense of self
  • Avoids inappropriate labels – lazy, unmotivated, stubborn, etc.
  • May help qualify the individual for appropriate community assistance

In addition, adults with autism are at high risk of health conditions. They are more prone than the general population to diabetes, heart disease, seizures, high blood pressure, sleep disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders to name a few.

What to Expect During Your Assessment

The clinic is an assessment clinic, which means there is a focus on diagnosing autism in adults and aging adults who lack a correct diagnosis in the spectrum. The assessment process is tailored to the needs of the individual, but generally includes a session with Dr. Regan to detect the core features of the autism criteria, as well as common associated features. There is often then additional check-ups of strengths and weaknesses in the areas of thinking skills and academic abilities. The appointment is longer than a usual doctor’s appointment, generally starting in the early morning and lasting beyond lunch time.

What to Expect After Your Assessment

The check-up results will be part of your OSF medical record and can then be used to coordinate care with other medical staff and with community agencies as needed. Most often, patients and family members return for a one hour feedback and education session a few weeks after the evaluation.

At the feedback session, copies of the report are provided and discussed. Areas of strength and weakness are reviewed. Recommendations are listed and often include suggestions within the areas of social skills, sensory integration, regulation (calming and alerting), executive function (organization, completing tasks, sticking to a schedule), and community agencies and support as needed. Patients sometimes return for additional follow-up sessions to reinforce the recommendations and strategies discussed at feedback.

Request an Appointment

A request for autism evaluation should be made by the patient’s physician. A physician can enter an electronic outpatient order for neuropsychology evaluation or can call (309) 655-7378 for further instructions or assistance. Once the physician order is received, we will call the patient to schedule an appointment.

Meet Dr. Theresa Regan

Theresa M. Regan, PhD, CBIS, CAS Psychology

Dr. Theresa Regan is a neuropsychologist with over 25 years’ experience serving adolescents, adults, and geriatrics in hospital settings. A neuropsychologist specializes in understanding how changes in the brain impact thinking skills, behavior, emotions, and personality. Dr. Regan sees patients with a variety of medical conditions including dementia, traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain infections, and medical confusion. She is credentialed with the National Register of Health Service Psychologists and is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist.

Dr. Regan has a son in the autism spectrum. She has participated in multiple years of pediatric assessment and intervention for her son, and understands the gifts and challenges of living with autism on a daily basis.

Dr. Regan is a Certified Autism Specialist, credentialed through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). IBCCES is the leading credentialing organization for professionals in the field of autism. Her expertise in brain-behavior relationships, adult and geriatric medical conditions, and autism have led to a set of rare qualifications to provide services to adults with autism.