The team at Children's Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders (CASD) includes psychologists, speech-language pathologists, child psychiatrists, pediatricians, neurologists, and behavioral neuroscientists. These specialists not only diagnose and treat autism spectrum disorders (ASD), but do innovative research on the needs of children with ASD, rapidly translating their findings into new ways to help children living with autism. The research program from CASD uses neuropsychological, genetic, and brain imaging methods to determine the underlying cognitive and brain differences between children with ASD and their peers. The goals include understanding of the underlying genetic and neurological causes of ASD, characterizing autism profiles, and developing drug, behavioral, and school-based interventions that help children with ASD function better.
Children's team also collaborates with Autism Speaks, the Ford Foundation, Georgetown University Medical Center, the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition, and the Child Psychiatry Branch of National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to investigate the genetic and cognitive characteristics of high-functioning children with ASD.
The Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders actively researches:
Children’s researchers also investigate the underlying biological manifestations of ASD. Although autism is a complex genetic disorder, there are numerous cases of single gene disorders which to varying degrees fall onto the autism spectrum. These include Fragile X syndrome, Angelman syndrome, and Rett’s syndrome. In addition, a more complex chromosomal disorder, Down syndrome, also displays some overlap with the autism spectrum. Children’s researchers capitalize on the institution’s access to highly sought animal models to explore developmental neurological alterations. These include altered protein processing and disturbances in brain wiring and function, related to these disorders. Our goal is to use the information from these animal models to design common-sense therapeutic approaches for ASD.