Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) Autism Therapy Services launched its START (Systemic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Resource, Treatment) Crisis Support Team in December 2022. This program supports individuals experiencing a crisis who have a history of a developmental disability and mental health concerns.
The START team at Easterseals works closely with an individual’s physicians, mental health professionals, and occupational and speech therapists to coordinate a system of support to reduce crisis episodes and promote overall wellness.
“This service is not just about reducing crisis, removing problem behavior or reducing mental health symptoms,” said Rick Gutierrez, Autism Services Vice President of Clinical Strategy. “Rather, it is about improving the individual’s overall wellness from a biopsychosocial perspective. We want the people we serve to experience positive emotion, be engaged, and have meaning in their life.”
START also offers a crisis hotline between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m., seven days a week, which will expand to 24/7 by summer of 2023.
Currently, this service is only offered by referral from the East Los Angeles Regional Center (ELARC), but ESSC plans to take this model to support other regional centers that have yet to adopt the START model. To fully support this program and its expected growth, ESSC added 10 new associates dedicated to START services.
“I’m very pleased we are able to expand Easterseals’ support to more individuals in our community,” said Rick. “Through this, we can directly put our mission at Easterseals in to play so that all individuals with a disability can live a more inclusive life.”