Provider News

New Fast-Track Psychiatric Consultation Program at Autism Center Prioritizes Timely Access to Quality Care

December 7, 2022

Seattle Children’s Autism Center is now offering a fast-track program for children and teens already diagnosed with autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders and who are struggling with psychiatric or behavioral concerns.

The program offers short-term evaluation and consultation to identify appropriate treatment options. Patients are then returned to their community provider with written recommendations for their ongoing mental health management, which may include medication and/or therapy.  See “What to expect” below for more details on patient hand-off.

About the Fast-Track Psychiatric Consultation Program

The fast-track program is for patients who fit the following criteria:

  • They already have an autism or other neurodevelopmental disorder diagnosis, either from Seattle Children’s or elsewhere.


  • They have underlying mental health or behavioral concerns and the PCP or treatment team needs help diagnosing and identifying treatment options, including medication or other interventions.

Patients we typically see include those who are not sufficiently responding to an existing intervention, are experiencing an adverse effect, or who have a complex presentation and may benefit from consultation with a psychiatrist or psychiatric advanced nurse practitioner with expertise in autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders.

Patients in the fast-track program typically do not require the more extensive stabilization services included in our Brief Intervention Psychiatric Program (see below for a description).

Age: The fast-track program is for patients ages 17 and younger; patients ages 18-20 may be seen in fast-track if they are a current or recent patient at Seattle Children’s, depending on program capacity.  Young adults we cannot see will be redirected to the PCP along with information on local resources.

Access: Wait times are under three months as of December 2022.

How to refer

  • Submit a referral in the usual way, i.e., using Seattle Children’s New Appointment Request Form (NARF).
  • Include the Provider Referral Form (questionnaire), found on the Autism Center’s “Refer a Patient” site. We encourage providers to fill out the form as completely as possible and engage the family, if possible and helpful.  (If you don’t submit it with your referral, we will fax it to you upon receiving your referral).

What to expect

  • We will contact you to let you know if your patient has been scheduled or if we require further information.
  • Patients in the fast-track program are typically seen one to three times.
  • We will return the patient to your care for ongoing mental health management. Our Autism Center psychiatry providers will collaborate with you, the patient and their family to ensure a smooth transition.

Follow-up care after the consultation

PCPs who are comfortable managing their patient’s psychiatric medications will be offered assistance in navigating the Washington Partnership Access Line (PAL).

In some cases, patients will be directed to a community psychiatry provider instead of their PCP if their medication regimen is sufficiently complex or if their PCP isn’t comfortable managing their medications. Seattle Children’s uses the Washington Mental Health Referral Service for Children and Teens to help families access local community psychiatrists who accept their insurance.

NOTE: The Autism Center does not provide long-term psychiatric management for patients with autism. Patients can always return to the program for re-evaluation as needed, with a new referral.

Brief Intervention Psychiatric Program

Referenced above, this is our existing program that offers patients an extended evaluation followed by a brief intervention, after which they return to their referring provider or establish care with a community psychiatric provider.

Wait times are approximately 6 to 12 months as of December 2022.

Questions? For more information about the fast-track consultation program or psychiatric medication management at the Autism Center, contact Jessica Arambul at