Senator Christopher Dodd to Meet with Autism Researchers at Yale Child Study Center

U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd (D–CT), will meet with Robert Alpern, M.D., dean of Yale School of Medicine, and autism researchers at Yale Child Study Center today at 10 a.m. to learn about the latest in autism research and to support federal spending on autism research and screening.

Dodd will arrive at the Child Study Center, 230 South Frontage Road, and meet with Dean Alpern, Alan Kazdin, Director of the Yale Child Study Center, and researchers Fred Volkmar, M.D. and Kasia Chawarska. Dodd will also meet with parents of children with autism to hear their concerns about treatment. He will brief them on legislation he has coauthored calling for increased autism research and treatment efforts. Dodd will then be led on a tour of the center by Alpern and Volkmar.

Dodd’s visit comes on the heels of legislation he recently introduced with U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R–PA), to authorize additional federal spending for autism research and screening. The Combating Autism Act of 2005 would renew the authority for screening programs at the Centers for Disease Control as well as National Institutes of Health grants to establish centers of excellence. An aspect of the bill would authorize grants to states for early screening, diagnosis and intervention.

Autism is a developmental disorder that has a profound effect on socialization, communication, learning and other behaviors. In most cases, onset is early in infancy. Information on the earliest development aspects of autism in children has been limited even though it affects three to four of every 1,000 individuals.

“We are very excited by this new proposal and look forward to the meeting with Senator Dodd,” said Volkmar.

For many years, Volkmar and his team have provided comprehensive diagnostic services for infants and toddlers and have worked with families to ensure adequate services for their children. “Based on our extensive clinical and research experience, we have developed a comprehensive assessment model for infants and toddlers at risk for autism,” said Chawarska. “We are also conducting multiple lines of research aimed at identifying behavioral markers of autism in infants. Identification of such markers would help us not only with early identification of children at risk, but also would greatly contribute to our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of autism.”

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