GRAND RAPIDS, MI--(Marketwire - April 19, 2010) -  Hope Network's newest facility, the $1.2 million, 12,000 SF Center for Autism on the Coral Lettinga Campus in Grand Rapids, will officially open its doors on April 23 with a ceremony from 4:00pm-7:00pm. The Center will serve children and adolescents with autism, neuro-developmental disabilities, learning disabilities and ADHD with an array of services under one roof, something that previously was not available in West Michigan.

The Center for Autism, as it's officially called, offers all of Hope Network's specialists in one location. They are able to offer assessments and treatment from a multi-disciplinary approach in order to ensure the best course of treatment for the child, and a less stressful experience for the entire family.

The facility is located at 3361 36th St. SE in Grand Rapids, immediately next to Hope Network's inpatient behavioral health services facility, D.A.R.T. (Developmental Adolescent Residential Treatment) -- the only program of its kind in West Michigan. Having both residential and outpatient options on one campus, really speaks to the comprehensive approach Hope Network is pursuing.

The Center will allow Hope Network to substantially enhance its ability to serve the increasing number of children diagnosed with autism.

"We are very excited to open this facility to the community," said Phil Weaver, President and CEO of Hope Network. "This center will offer the most comprehensive array of autism treatment and services in one location in West Michigan."

According to the Autism Society of America, about 1 in every 150 American children is diagnosed with autism, for boys the statistic is even more drastic -- almost 1 in 94 boys. Those statistics make Autism the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States. For children who are diagnosed with the disorder, intensive early intervention is key -- each child has specific needs depending on the deficits of autism. The services they require need to be specifically tailored for each child. Hope Network officials believe that there is no outpatient center for autism that offers the kinds of services provided at the Center for Autism on the Coral Lettinga Campus.

The facility has been fully funded by donations, most notably from the campus' namesake family, Mike and Connie Lettinga, who have an 11-year old daughter living with autism. Connie's struggles in getting her daughter the most appropriate care has been difficult. "That's why I wanted to be involved in creating Hope Network's Center for Autism: so other families wouldn't struggle the way I did in finding the most suitable care," notes Connie.

Connie didn't need to look far to find support of Hope Network. Her husband Mike is the son of Wilbur Lettinga, who was instrumental in creating the Hope Network Foundation in 1987.

"In addition to the comprehensive specialists available, having all therapies in one means only one trip," says the Center's director, David Gamble. "People with autism struggle with changes in environment, so only having to make one trip for all of their therapies and appointments, instead of multiple locations -- this makes things easier on the individual, as well as the families."

In addition the Center, many of the specialists are also available to provide therapy and treatment in the home, or another natural environment more conducive to therapy.

Realizing that family and support are very important parts of the treatment process, Hope intends on developing support groups for siblings, parents, and other family members to contribute to the autism community that will support and encourage each other.

Contact Information:

Craig Clark,