By Jennifer Rosinski
Autism research at UMass Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center aims to reduce barriers to diagnosis and both understand and meet the unique needs of this population, according to a July 26 article in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
"The research efforts are really geared toward facilitating diagnosis and enhancing quality of life for individuals on the spectrum," said Shriver Center Director Jean A. Frazier, MD, the Robert M. and Shirley S. Siff Chair in Autism, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics and vice chair and director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
The Telegram & Gazette article mentioned several projects under development by researchers within the Shriver Center:
- Considering Culture in Autism Screening seeks to help pediatric providers overcome cultural barriers during developmental screenings and referrals. Researchers have developed a Considering Culture in Autism screening kit, training program that teaches professionals how to exercise cultural competence throughout the diagnostic process, and ongoing skill-building sessions for health care and public health professionals. The project has been funded by the Deborah Munroe Noonan Memorial Research Fund and the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs.
- Atypical Effects Of Reinforcement Procedures in ASD is research focused on understanding and identifying the barriers to successful behavior therapy in persons with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID). It is funded by the National Institutes of Health.
- Developmental Disabilities Dentistry Online is a project to design, evaluate and offer courses to dental professionals and students that teach them how to meet the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism. The project is funded by a National Institutes of Health grant and is in partnership with Praxis, Inc., an educational technology company, and the Department of Exercise and Health Sciences at UMass Boston.
- The Healthy Weight Research Network, funded by the Maternal Child Health Bureau, is a national network housed at the Shriver Center that promotes the understanding of obesity risk factors in children with ASD and other developmental disabilities. The network develops evidence-based solutions to help these populations of children reach and maintain a healthy weight.