Dragonfly Clinical Staff present at the YATA Inaugural Conference

We live in an age and society that is becoming increasingly difficult for our young adults to navigate. The transition from adolescence to young adulthood is proving for many to be a challenge for which they are not prepared. For some this results in increased mental health issues, substance abuse, isolation, and hopelessness. Many young adults are struggling to become independent and are often not self-regulated or motivated. The result can be academic failure, psychiatric hospitalizations, failure to launch, and for some suicide. Over the last 20-years, young adult programs have emerged to support this transition.

A group of young adult programs and individuals, including Dragonfly Transitions, came together to share knowledge and to talk about common issues facing programs that specialize in the treatment of young adults and their families. The collaboration was refreshing and it was clear that there was a need for a wider venue. Working together, the Young Adult Transition Association (YATA) was created and on September 4th, the first annual YATA Conference was held in Boulder, Colorado.

Sharon Melnick, MD, Patrick Devlin, MSW, and Jennifer Patzke, LPC presented on Blurring of the Lines: Autism Spectrum Disorders and Schizophrenia. 

Autism spectrum disorders have been one of the most developed areas of diagnosis in the recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This is indicative of the research and progression of public awareness that has gone into this area. Autism was originally perceived as a form of schizophrenia until 1980 and since that time the understanding of this disorder has grown leaps and bounds. Their presentation explored the question, has the pendulum swung too far in the other direction and are we misdiagnosing individuals? It also explored the similarities between autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia, both as a diagnosis and in treatment. This was done through a historical account of the overlap between the disorders, current experiences from the field, use of psychotropic medications, and potential sticking points for professionals working in the field.



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