Researchers with the UC Davis MIND Institute are participating in an initiative project to provide better treatment for children with autism in under-served areas, through a five-year, $10 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The program aims to bring evidence-based research practices to communities throughout the U.S.
Peter Mundy, Lisa Capp Endowed Chair in Neurodevelopment and Education, and Aubyn Stahmer, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, will lead the Autism Intervention Research Network on Behavioral Health at UC Davis. The effort will be based at five academic research centers in three states – California, New York and Pennsylvania – but is intended to be a national resource.
“We have had wonderful response from community programs,” Stahmer said. “We will work together with them to develop ways to get help to families in traditionally under-resourced areas more quickly and effectively.”
The project’s primary aim is to develop academic/community partnerships that lead to sustainable autism intervention services. Each research site will engage with multiple community partners; Healthy African-American Families, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization, will serve as the network’s organizing community partner.
“This project provides a long-awaited and dynamic platform for our efforts to translate the science of the UC Davis MIND Institute to more directly benefit school-aged children with autism and their families, as well as schools and teachers,” Mundy said.
In addition to UC Davis, the research sites are UCLA, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Rochester, N.Y., and Drexel University.
Autism spectrum disorder affects 1 in 68 children, and boys are five times more likely to have the disorder.
African-American and Latino children with autism tend to be diagnosed later in life than do Caucasian children. The difference can be as great as four or five years, which can cause them to miss out on important early-intervention services. One of the network’s proposed projects would attempt to reduce that disparity by providing support services for families from the time the first signs of autism are recognized until other community services are available.
A second project would help families and school personnel navigate children’s transitions from one environment to the next – for example from early intervention to kindergarten, or from elementary to middle school.
The UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, Calif., was founded in 1998 as a unique interdisciplinary research center where families, community leaders, researchers, clinicians and volunteers work together toward a common goal: researching causes, treatments and eventual preventions and cures for neurodevelopmental disorders. The institute has major research efforts in autism, fragile X syndrome, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome. More information about the institute and its Distinguished Lecturer Series, including previous presentations in this series, is available on the Web at mindinstitute.ucdavis.edu.*UC Davis MIND Institute