Autism foundation, Genetic Center join forces

The Project HOPE Foundation in Greenville has joined with the Greenwood Genetic Center to develop a program that will give families with autistic children an integrated approach to delivering services and support and conducting research.

Called Helix and Hope, the program brings Project HOPE's Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy for autism to Greenwood with plans to grow ABA and other therapies there, as well as explore personalized therapeutic models, support education models that promote inclusion, enhance independent living and job skills training, and formulate evidence-based medical strategies, officials said.

Project HOPE is a center in Greenville that offers therapy, education, training, family support, social groups, adult services and employment to people with autism and their families. Pooling resources and sharing expertise will foster success, officials said.

“Helix and Hope was born out of a desire to provide individuals with access to proven therapeutic services and educational opportunities along side the latest in scientific discoveries and potential treatments,” said center director Steve Skinner. “By combining our expertise and resources with that of Project HOPE Foundation, we hope to better understand the biology of (autism spectrum disorders), deliver needed services, expand opportunities for inclusion, and formulate medical treatment strategies.”

GGC is developing a blood test for autism and the foundation is providing samples from both those with autism and those without the condition to help validate the test, officials said. They are also collecting clinical data on clients so GGC scientists can determine whether the test can measure a person's level of functioning.

“This collaboration is truly innovative in the world of autism, bringing two important components together — science and services,” said Susan Sachs, a co-founder of the foundation.

“Greenwood Genetic Center’s research in developing new diagnostic options is a game-changer for our families, who often waste critical years waiting for a diagnosis before they can access services,” she said.

“This partnership opens up possibilities that have not been tapped into before, directly connecting scientific research with life-changing services,” said Lisa Lane, co-founder of Project HOPE.

Based in Greenwood, the nonprofit genetic center has offices in Greenville, Charleston, Columbia and Florence.

To learn more, go to www.ggc.org and www.projecthopesc.org.