Randolph, Mass. – When a child or adult is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), every member of the family is affected. While each experience is unique, there are common challenges that most individuals and their relatives face throughout their journeys. These include dealing with the diagnosis, choosing the best treatment options, and building a strong and supportive network.
Being armed with up-to-date, accurate information about ASD can help families feel more comfortable as they face these challenges. But how do they know where to begin and how to make good choices at each step along the way? An Internet search for ASD can result in hundreds of thousands of hits from a variety of sources that often provide conflicting information.
“That’s why May Institute goes beyond providing evidence-based services,” shares Lauren C. Solotar, Ph.D., ABPP, President and CEO of May Institute. “We and our National Autism Center are also committed to raising awareness about autism and disseminating scientific information that people can use to make well-informed choices with and for their loved ones on the spectrum. One in 68 children has been diagnosed with ASD, a lifelong condition. It has never been more important for families to learn all they can. Knowledge is power.”
Drawing from the vast range of expertise provided by dozens of its clinical experts, May Institute offers the following 30 articles about autism and related special needs from its library of resources, written in accessible and practical language. These articles provide important information on a range of topics including diagnosis, early intervention, effective treatment, and everyday living strategies for individuals and families living with ASD.
A CLOSER LOOK AT AUTISM: 30 DAYS, 30 TOPICS
First Middle East trip forges new partnerships in countries seeking response to autism “tsunami”
Randolph, Mass. — The National Autism Center (NAC) at May Institute has been selected to participate in the U.S. State Department’s Speaker Program, and was subsequently invited to provide training and consultation in applied behavior analysis and autism spectrum disorder in both Oman and Dubai. The Speaker Program is managed by the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, which organizes traveling and electronic events for American experts to engage with foreign audiences worldwide.
May Institute and its National Autism Center respond to national and global demand for a broad range of needs and services. These include: the dissemination of best practices in applied behavior analysis treatment of autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities; training in applied behavior analysis; the start-up and operation of schools and programs for autism; and Positive Behavioral Support technical assistance. Recent inquiries and partnerships have included organizations from Abu Dhabi, Qatar, China, Singapore, and South Korea.
Dr. Ralph Sperry, who holds a joint appointment as Chief Operating Officer for both May Institute and NAC, and Dr. Robert Putnam, a member of May Institute’s executive leadership team, and Senior Vice President of Research and Consultation for NAC, recently returned from a trip to Oman that was sponsored by the Omani Ministry of Social Development. They delivered a four-day workshop on autism treatment in Muscat, the capital of Oman and the seat of government.
“The workshop was extraordinarily well received by an audience of over 150 Ministry officials, educators, doctors, parents, and therapists,” said Daniel Durazo, Omani Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Muscat. Omani officials expressed deep gratitude for this workshop as they strive to meet the demand for services for what they called “a tsunami” of potential confirmed autism diagnoses.
Drs. Putnam and Sperry provided information about the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), considered the “gold standard” assessment tool to evaluate the communication, social interaction, and play patterns of children suspected of having autism. They also shared results of NAC’s National Standards Project, including information about the 14 Established Interventions for children and adolescents that have the most research support, produce beneficial outcomes, and are known to be effective. By combining the results of Phase
1 and Phase 2 of the National Standards Project, NAC has produced the largest compilation of studies ever reviewed.
At the request of the U.S. Embassy and Omani officials, Drs. Sperry and Putnam also visited Muscat’s Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities, the Oman Autism Association, and the Early Intervention Center.
“The government of Oman extended its thanks to the U.S. State Department and May Institute for the assistance provided to meet the needs of children with autism in Oman,” said Dr. Ralph Sperry. “They have invited us to join them in an ongoing collaboration in Oman to assist in the development of a strategic plan for the country to address this issue. The intention is to develop a school and an Autism Center of Excellence as part of the plan. We shall be returning to Oman in January to begin this collaboration.”
The findings from the National Standards Project concluded that there is more empirical support than ever before for interventions that are behaviorally based. Hundreds of scientific studies have shown that applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the most effective method to teach children and adolescents with autism and other developmental disabilities. ABA has been endorsed by the National Institutes of Health and the Association for Science in Autism Treatment and has been identified by the Surgeon General of the United States as the most effective way to treat autism. May Institute is one of the leading providers of applied behavior analysis services in the U.S.
Randolph, Mass. – As record numbers of students with autism are back to school this month, the National Autism Center at May Institute is offering teachers its popular educators’ manual – Evidence-based Practice and Autism in the Schools, 2nd Edition – as a free resource. This manual and other informative publications focused on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are available as free downloads at www.nationalautismcenter.org.
Since the manual was first published, tens of thousands of copies have been downloaded or purchased by teachers and front-line interventionists from across the country and throughout the world. Responses to a national survey indicate the manual has made a significant impact on improving educators’ knowledge about ASD and providing effective interventions for students on the spectrum.
Updated last year, the educators’ manual now includes information about the 14 Established Interventions for children and adolescents that have the most research support, produce beneficial outcomes, and are known to be effective. It also offers case studies, practical tools, and reading recommendations to help special education teachers, administrators, and families.
“Given the challenges of providing appropriate services to a diverse and increasingly numerous student population with ASD in this country, the need for evidence-based practice in our schools has never been so urgent,” said Lauren C. Solotar, Ph.D., ABPP, President and CEO of May Institute, which houses the National Autism Center. “We must provide our educators with the tools and resources they need to give children and adolescents the greatest chance for success.”
Randolph, Mass. — Cynthia M. Anderson, Ph.D., BCBA-D, has joined May Institute as Senior Vice President of Applied Behavior Analysis. Dr. Anderson holds a joint appointment as Director of May Institute’s National Autism Center (NAC). May Institute is a national network of programs and services for individuals of all ages with special needs; NAC is its Center for the Promotion of Evidence-based Practice.
Dr. Anderson’s responsibilities include consultation and support to clinical staff members across the organization who provide services to individuals with challenging behaviors. In addition, she promotes research in and dissemination of evidence-based practices through the National Autism Center at May Institute.
“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Anderson to our executive leadership team,” said Deidre Donaldson, Ph.D., ABPP, May Institute’s Chief Clinical Officer. “She has an international reputation for excellence in the fields of applied behavior analysis and positive behavioral interventions and supports, two areas of critical importance for May Institute. Her research in these areas is supported by federal funding.”
Dr. Anderson’s research focuses on the development and evaluation of interventions for children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities. She is particularly interested in the implementation of evidence-based practices in “real world” settings such as classrooms and the community and in helping educators and other community providers build capacity to support individuals with autism. She has published her work in many peer-reviewed journals including Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, The Behavior Analyst, and Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports.
She is a Principal Investigator for “Students with Autism Accessing General Education,” a 3-year, $1.5M grant funded by the Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences. This multi-site project is conducted in collaboration with researchers at University of South Florida and University of Rochester Medical Center. Previous funding came from the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs.
Dr. Anderson currently serves as the Applied Representative on the Executive Council of the Association for Behavioral Analysis International, and is the Representative-at-Large for Division 25 of the American Psychological Association. She provides editorial support to numerous journals including serving as Associate Editor for School Psychology Review and Journal of Behavioral Education, and on the editorial boards of Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, The Behavior Analyst, and other journals.
Dr. Anderson received her Ph.D. in Clinical-Child Psychology from West Virginia University. She is a licensed psychologist and a board certified behavior analyst at the doctoral level.
Randolph, Mass. — Robert F. Putnam, Ph.D., LABA, BCBA-D, Executive Vice President of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and Consultation for May Institute, was recently elected President-Elect of the Massachusetts Association of Applied Behavior Analysis (MassABA) at the Association’s annual meeting.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a methodology, or framework, that applies scientific interventions to address behavioral needs. MassABA represents more than 700 ABA professionals, provides training and educational opportunities, and informs members about ABA practice developments in the Commonwealth.
May Institute, a leading national provider of educational, rehabilitative, and behavioral healthcare services for people with special needs, has an international reputation for excellence in the field of ABA. It was the first nonprofit human services organization in the country to receive top national honors from the Society for the Advancement of Behavior Analysis (SABA) and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT). May Institute has received the Outstanding Training Program Award from ABCT and the Award for Enduring Programmatic Contributions in Behavior Analysis from SABA.
At May Institute, Dr. Putnam currently leads a systems-wide change initiative, entitled Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of behavior and clinical supports across the organization and in schools across the country. The Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services, which funds May Institute’s adult services for individuals with intellectual disabilities, has adopted PBIS as its clinical framework.
Dr. Putnam also serves as Senior Vice President of Research and Consultation at the National Autism Center at May Institute (NAC), and was an Expert Panelist on the National Standards Project of the NAC. In addition, he serves as a national implementation partner with the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Program’s National Technical Assistance Center for PBIS (www.pbis.org).
“Bob is an innovative leader who has distinguished himself in the fields of positive behavior supports and applied behavior analysis,” said Lauren C. Solotar, Ph.D., ABPP, President and Chief Executive Officer of May Institute. “His new role as President-Elect for the MassABA is a great honor for him and for May Institute. We are very proud of his accomplishments.”
A licensed psychologist and a certified health service provider, Dr. Putnam received his Ph.D. from Boston College. He has served on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Putnam has given more than 100 presentations at schools and conferences relative to development and implementation of effective discipline, functional behavior assessment, and positive behavior support practices He consults nationally and internationally in China, Canada, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Oman.
He is widely published in this field, including recent articles in Behavior Modification, Child and Family Behavior Therapy, Journal of Positive Behavior Intervention, Behavior Analysis Today, Psychiatric Services, and Journal of Special Education Leadership. Dr. Putnam also coauthored a number of chapters around these topics.