Autism research and care at CHOP

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex, lifelong neurodevelopmental condition and an urgent public health problem. Since it was first described 75 years ago, its prevalence has skyrocketed worldwide. An estimated 1 in 68 children has ASD, 20 times more than in the past generation.

All proceeds from the 2022 Carousel Ball will benefit autism research and care at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where we see nearly 20,000 visits from children and youth with ASD each year. The Center for Autism Research at CHOP is focused on discovering the causes of ASD and developing new, targeted treatments and therapies.

CHOP has one of the largest, most comprehensive autism programs in the country. Because the causes of autism are still unknown, yet it affects so many, there is still a great deal to learn. With your support, we will help so many more children and young adults.

Our Inspiration

Our inspiring patients are the reason we gather every other year for the Carousel Ball. The following stories highlight some of the Carousel Ball’s previous beneficiaries.

Hailee smiling

Hailee’s Story

Not much stops Hailee — at least not for long. She’s had three open heart surgeries and had a pacemaker implanted — all by the age of 5. Despite it all, Hailee, now 8, remains the active, silly and competitive girl she’s been all along.

Finn smiling

Finn’s Story

Before Finn was born, he was diagnosed with a rare birth defect that involves the heart and other organs. Finn’s heart didn’t have separate chambers and his lungs were reversed. After several surgeries, Finn, now 3, is an energetic preschooler.

Paulina smiling

Paulina’s Story

Paulina’s leukemia was so aggressive, it had come back three times. Just a few years ago, doctors had almost no options for such relapsed patients. But CHOP’s Cancer Immunotherapy Program can reprogram a type of white blood cell to destroy cancerous cells. Paulina and her family traveled to CHOP from Mexico to receive the therapy. She remains cancer-free.

Hannah smiling

Hannah’s Story

The summer before Hannah started second grade, she saw a star for the first time. She had been born with a rare retinal disease and was going blind. Then she came to CHOP to receive a gene therapy developed at CHOP and Penn that targeted her particular genetic blindness. Slowly, the world revealed itself to her, one star, one flower and one sunset at a time.

Rhyan smiling

Rhyan’s Story

Imagine living with a disease that causes excruciating pain, when every fever means a trip to the emergency room, where a stroke is a very real possibility. Children like Rhyan with sickle cell disease face these challenges. But CHOP researchers don’t believe in “incurable.” We are on the brink of two cures: one for people living with the disease, and another for those diagnosed while still in the womb.

Abby and Erin with parents

Abby and Erin’s Story

Today, Abby and Erin are able to look at each other and practice rolling over. Such everyday actions are remarkable for the twin girls – because until the summer of 2017, they were connected at the head. After an 11-hour surgery involving nearly 30 CHOP team members, the twins were separated. It was the 24th time doctors at CHOP separated conjoined twins, more than any other hospital in the Western Hemisphere.

About Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Every day, teams at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia make breakthroughs that transform children’s lives. Since our founding in 1855 as the nation’s first children’s hospital, we have made extraordinary discoveries, trained generations of leaders, and advocated for children everywhere. Our Pediatric Research Program, one of the largest in the country, has set a new standard for scientific innovation around the world. As a nonprofit charitable organization, we rely on the generous support of donors who are inspired by our work — and our mission.