VU Autism Treatment Network receives grant renewal from Autism Speaks

Stock photo of doctor with little boy

ATN

Autism Speaks is renewing Vanderbilt University as an Autism Treatment Network (ATN) site with a 3-year, $420,000 grant. This elite designation allows Vanderbilt to continue improving medical care for children and adolescents with autism by offering comprehensive diagnosis, treatment, care, and counseling.

One of 14 centers in the U.S. and Canada in the Autism Speaks ATN, Vanderbilt was first selected as a site in 2008 and received subsequent funding in 2011.

“Being renewed as an ATN site speaks to Vanderbilt’s commitment to autism treatment and research,” said Principal Investigator Beth Malow, M.D., Burry Professor of Cognitive Childhood Development, professor of Neurology and Pediatrics, and VKC investigator. “The Autism Speaks ATN is involved in multiple areas related to caring for children with autism and their families. We have developed a coordinated and integrated team of autism specialists at Vanderbilt, across disciplines including but not limited to psychology, pediatrics, psychiatry, neurology, and gastroenterology. Our goals include conducting research on the treatment of medical conditions in children with autism, implementing quality improvement measures aimed at increasing comfort for children undergoing medical procedures, and improving access for clinical care.

“To enhance clinical access, especially given the steep rise in the numbers of individuals with autism, we are also developing partnerships with community practitioners,” said Malow. “We hold a monthly autism case conference with these practitioners to share best practices, and provide education, training and support harnessing the resources of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. For example, Dr. Warren’s team provides training to community physicians in the early detection of autism, and our team is working with community practices on models to deliver sleep education to parents.”

On a network level, registry data from children and families participating in the ATN will improve the standard of care and treatment for children with autism throughout North America, Malow said.

“Renewal of the Vanderbilt ATN is evidence of Vanderbilt’s national excellence in autism research and interventions,” said Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., Annette Schaffer Eskind Chair and VKC director. “The Vanderbilt ATN, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, and TRIAD together partner to provide supports for children and families and to advance knowledge.”

In addition to Malow, co-PIs at Vanderbilt are Kevin Sanders, M.D., assistant professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and medical director of the Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD), and Zachary Warren, Ph.D., associate professor of Pediatrics, Psychiatry and Special Education, and TRIAD director.

For more information about the Vanderbilt program, visit the Autism Speaks ATN website, call
(877) ASD-VUMC, or email autismresources@vanderbilt.edu.

Pictured above: Beth Malow, M.D.

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