Tag: autism

Drexel Releases National Indicators Report on Autism & Adolescent Transitions

Originally posted on DrexelNow.

Autism does not end when children reach adulthood—yet most public awareness, public policy and research about autism focus on the needs of children. Families, service providers, community leaders and policymakers still know too little about the experiences and outcomes of young people on the autism spectrum as they enter their adult lives. What are their experiences with transition planning, living arrangements, social participation, employment, postsecondary education, health and mental health, safety and other domains?

Answers to these and other critical questions, addressing life outcomes beyond clinical interventions, are the focus of a report issued today from Drexel University’s A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, from its Life Course Outcomes Research Program. The “National Autism Indicators Report: Transition into Young Adulthood” is a comprehensive report (available free online) that presents new findings about a wide range of experiences and outcomes of youth on the autism spectrum between high school and their early 20s, including new safety and risk indicators for young adults with autism. The report describes the indicators now available and serves as a call to action to fill the remaining large gaps in knowledge.
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A.J. Drexel Autism Institute Receives $3.6 Million Gift to Launch Life Course Outcomes Research Initiatives

Originally posted on DrexelNow.

The A.J. Drexel Autism Institute at Drexel University has received a grant of $3.6 million from an anonymous donor to launch four major initiatives of its Life Course Outcomes research program, focused on understanding and improving quality of life issues for people on the autism spectrum at all ages. This program is led by Autism Institute professor Paul Shattuck, PhD, a nationally recognized expert on these issues.

“Finding ways for people on the autism spectrum to pursue fulfilling lives as full members of the community is vitally important work,” said Drexel University President John A. Fry. “Thanks to this incredibly generous gift, Drexel can help Dr. Shattuck expand his pioneering work in this area and further the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute’s critical mission.”

Four major research initiatives being advanced by the Life Course Outcomes Program include:

  1. Indicators Initiative, assessing community and national indicators of services and outcomes
  2. Promising Practices Initiative, examining innovative approaches to service provision and policies
  3. Research Leadership Initiative, expanding the field of useful research by training additional scholars
  4. Long-Term Knowledge Initiative, doing studies that discover how life unfolds over a long period of time for people on the autism spectrum and their families.

The Autism Institute leadership is actively pursuing additional partnerships for these key initiatives.

“About 500,000 adolescents on the autism spectrum will enter adulthood in the next decade,” said Shattuck, an associate professor at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute with a secondary appointment in Drexel’s School of Public Health. “We believe people on the autism spectrum are valuable members of our communities. They have roles to play, dreams to achieve and contributions to make. We see an urgent need for research aimed directly at understanding what strategies, beyond clinical interventions, promote positive outcomes and prevent negative ones – both for people on the autism spectrum and the families and communities they are part of.”

Shattuck joined Drexel in 2013 and is one of only a handful of scholars in the world whose work is wholly devoted to answering these kinds of questions. The A.J. Drexel Autism Institute was established in 2012 as the nation’s first autism research center based on a public health science approach.

Drexel’s Life Course Outcomes Program addresses questions about quality of life across the entire lifespan. Are children getting diagnosed and entering services at an early age? What’s holding back more adults on the spectrum from attending college or becoming gainfully employed? What kinds of services do people receive compared to what they need? What’s working and what’s not?

The program’s aims address the needs and challenges recognized by many adults on the autism spectrum as well as by parents of children with autism who anticipate the so-called “services cliff” that occurs when young adults on the spectrum age out of supports that are available to children and adolescents.

Sonia Voynow, a psychotherapist and parent of a teenager with ASD, who leads support groups for parents and grandparents of children on the spectrum, noted “a sense of terror” among parents such as herself when anticipating their kids’ future. “We know that our children are capable of so much when they have the right supports,” Voynow said. “But we don’t know where to find these resources, or if they even exist, particularly as our kids reach adulthood. Drexel’s Autism Institute, by using a systematic and organized approach to focus on what works for these kids, is filling a huge, and growing, need.”

“No approach to autism from a public health perspective could be comprehensive without considering the experiences of individuals and communities across the entire lifespan,” said Craig Newschaffer, PhD, director of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute and a professor in Drexel’s School of Public Health. “We are grateful to our anonymous donor whose generosity will help Drexel lead the way on research with a lifespan perspective. Dr. Shattuck will answer essential questions for individuals on the spectrum, their families and our communities.”

As the Life Course Outcomes program grows, Shattuck and colleagues at Drexel envision – as described in a recent JAMA Pediatrics editorial an approach that is centered on innovation and investment. Their aims include learning from innovations already underway in communities; measuring systematically and repeatedly to quantify societal impacts over time; planning large, long-term life-course studies for autism; and increasing the number of scholars pursuing this line of work.

“Ultimately, we need to know if the billions spent to move the needle on life outcomes like employment, health, community contribution, and social participation are having a measurable impact,” said Shattuck. “This gift positions the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute to lead the way in figuring out how to strengthen the connection between efforts and outcomes so we know what’s working for whom.”

For More Information

To learn more about research at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, see the special report in Drexel University’s research magazine, EXEL: Exploring the Spectrum.

To learn more about the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, visit the institute’s website or follow on Facebook or Twitter.

– See more at: http://drexel.edu/now/archive/2014/September/Autism-Life-Course-Research/

First Study Asks Autistic Adults about Driving Experiences

Originally posted on DrexelNow.

In the first pilot study asking adults on the autism spectrum about their experiences with driving, researchers at Drexel University found significant differences in self-reported driving behaviors and perceptions of driving ability in comparison to non-autistic adults. As the population of adults with autism continues growing rapidly, the survey provides a first step toward identifying whether this population has unmet needs for educational supports to empower safe driving – a key element of independent functioning in many people’s lives.

“Previous research in my lab has included extensive research in driving capacity with people who have a variety of conditions such as multiple sclerosis or who had experienced traumatic brain injury,” said study co-author Maria Schultheis, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Drexel. “When we investigate whether and under what circumstances a condition or neurological difference might affect driving ability, as a standard starting point we want to go to individuals and find out from their perspective what problems they are having on the road, in their real-world experience. That question is pivotal to shape and inform the goals of long-term research – and is especially important when we turn to look at a developmental difference like autism, where there has been too little research to establish yet whether widespread driving difficulties exist.”

Only a few previous studies have examined driving ability in individuals with autism, and those studies focused on adolescents and new drivers rather than experienced adult drivers. These studies relied on parent surveys and evaluations of discrete aspects of driving performance. The new Drexel study, published early online this month in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, used a validated survey that has been extensively used in driving research, and asked adult licensed drivers on the autism spectrum to describe their first-hand, real-world driving experiences.

“We were beginning to see discussion in the research literature that aspects of autism spectrum disorders, such as neurocognitive challenges and social recognition difficulties, could make it likely that members of this population would experience significant challenges with driving,” said the study’s lead author Brian Daly, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology in Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences. “But that assumption hadn’t been studied in adult drivers, or based on the experiences of the drivers themselves – so these were the questions we explored.”

In this survey, adults with autism spectrum disorders reported earning their drivers’ licenses at a later age, driving less frequently and putting more restrictions on their own driving behaviors (such as avoiding driving on highways or at night), on average compared to non-autistic adults. The respondents with autism spectrum disorders also reported more traffic violations.

Because this pilot study was relatively small and based on self-reports of 78 ASD respondents and 94 non-ASD comparison participants, Schultheis and Daly noted that the differences they found were open to several possible interpretations. Autistic adults may have reported driving less often and restricting their behaviors out of self-awareness of actual difficulties or deficiencies in their driving. These difficulties and/or reduced driving exposure could also explain the higher rate of reported violations.

Alternatively, it is possible that the respondents on the autism spectrum were more honest in their answers, but no worse at driving than everyone else.

“In driving research, it’s well established that people have a positive bias when reporting their own driving skills,” said Schultheis. “Because the study relied on self-reported answers, we can’t rule out whether the respondents with autism were simply being more descriptive and honest about their difficulties than the control group.”

One intriguing finding that Daly and Schultheis noted was that the difficulties adults with autism reported were not clustered in any specific areas, such as problems related to social processing of other drivers’ or pedestrians’ expected behaviors, or difficulties with neurocognitive aspects of driving such as motion perception and reaction time.

“It suggests that the challenges these individuals are facing are more global than specific,” Daly said.

“This is such an important study,” said Paul Shattuck, PhD, an associate professor and director of the research program area in life course outcomes at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, who was not involved in conducting the study. “Cognitively-able adults on the autism spectrum face many barriers to full participation in society. Facilitating access to transportation options will increase the capacity for these adults to contribute to their communities.”

Daly and Schultheis are continuing to investigate driving behavior in adults with autism through further research, with funding from the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, the first autism research center focused on a public health science approach. In the next phase of research, the team is using driving simulation in Schultheis’ lab to objectively capture aspects of actual driving performance in adults on the autism spectrum. Individuals interested in enrolling in these studies should contact schultheis@drexel.edu.

“This is a first step toward identifying, categorizing and quantifying challenges that may exist in this population,” Schultheis said. “What we find will help determine what needs there may be for interventions, from driver education programs to different kinds of training exposures.”

– See more at: http://drexel.edu/now/archive/2014/June/Autism-Driving-Study/

Awareness Month Spurs Web Searches for Autism

Originally posted on DrexelNow.

Autism Awareness Month each April brings blue lights and puzzle shapes out to shine in many communities – but does it actually lead to increased autism awareness? According to a new analysis of web search trends by researchers at Drexel University, it does appear to drive an increase in Google searches for autism – by a third over searches in March in recent years.

Brian K. Lee, PhD, an assistant professor in the Drexel University School of Public Health and research fellow of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, was senior author of the study with public health doctoral student Elizabeth DeVilbiss, published early online this month in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Using the Google trends tool (google.com/trends), they analyzed web search queries for the terms “autism” and “Asperger’s” from January 2004 through April 2014 in the United States. They also compared these trends with searches for “ADHD” to assess the possible influence of broader trends in public interest in mental health issues of special interest to younger populations.

Each April, from 2004 through 2014 (except 2005), web search interest in autism spiked – up by an average of 26 percent between March and April, followed by an average decrease by 24 percent between April and May. Even sharper April spikes have occurred from 2007 through 2014, with the average March-April increase at 33 percent in those years.

A secondary, smaller increase in “autism” searches occurred each fall. Similar spring and fall oscillations occurred in searches for “ADHD” but without the sharp spike observed in April for “autism.” The spring and fall oscillations may reflect a rebound in web searches in general, which tend to drop off in summer and winter, Lee said.

The overall search interest in “autism” was sustained but not increasing over the ten-year span the researchers analyzed. In contrast, “Asperger’s” searches had a long-term increasing trend, with the term’s popularity overall 255 percent higher in January 2014 in comparison to January 2004.

Lee and DeVelbiss pointed out a few additional spikes in the search trends that may correspond to high-impact media coverage of autism and Asperger’s disorder outside of the April awareness campaigns. The Google trends tool allows users to overlay related news headlines for search terms alongside the trend chart. Lee warned that conclusions about the correlation of news headlines to search trends should be considered with caution because many could be simply accidental correlations. However, three non-April spikes were of particular note:

http://www.google.com/trends/fetchComponent?hl=en-US&q=Asperger%27s&geo=US&date=1/2004+124m&cmpt=q&content=1&cid=TIMESERIES_GRAPH_0&export=5&w=600&h=330Autism is not the only condition for which awareness months have been linked to increased search activity. A 2011 study in BMC Cancer reported that searches for breast cancer increased each October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month between 2004 and 2009, but much lower search activity occurred for prostate and lung cancers during their respective awareness months.

Search activity is also far from the entire picture of creating awareness of autism and other conditions. Whether useful and accessible information is available as a result of that search is important.

“Whether increased awareness is meaningful is another question,” Lee said. “When a parent performs a web search, does it lead to recognition of autism in their child? Does it lead to seeking clinical testing and services?” Search trends can’t answer those questions, but can provide a glimpse of public interest in a topic.

– See more at: http://drexel.edu/now/archive/2014/June/Autism-Awareness-Search-Trends/

Drexel Researchers Call for an Innovation and Investment Approach to Autism Population Needs

Drexel News Blog A new study published this week in the journal JAMA Pediatrics put a price tag on the services for individuals with autism across their lifespan: from $1.4 million for those without intellectual disability to $2.4 million for those with both autism and … Continue reading Drexel Researchers Call for an Innovation and Investment Approach to Autism Population Needs

In Utero Exposure to Antidepressants May Influence Autism Risk

Originally posted on DrexelNow.

A new study from researchers at Drexel University adds evidence that using common antidepressant medications during pregnancy may contribute to a higher risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children, although this risk is still very small.

Results from past studies of prenatal use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and ASD risk have not been consistent. An ongoing challenge in this line of research is trying to tease apart potential effects of the medication on risk from the effects associated with the condition for which the medication was prescribed (most commonly depression). Based on past studies, both SSRIs and genetic factors associated with depression are likely associated with greater risk of ASD.

This new study, published online ahead of print last month in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, suggests that under-reporting of maternal depression, if not properly considered in analyses, may influence results of studies trying to address this question.

In the study, the Drexel team analyzed large population based registers of nearly 750,000 births in Denmark from 1997 through 2006. They found that about 1.5 percent of children born to women who had taken an SSRI during pregnancy were diagnosed with ASD, compared to about 0.7 percent of children born to an otherwise similar group of women not taking the medication.

“We found a two-fold increased risk for ASD associated with in utero exposure to SSRIs compared to the unexposed reference group” said lead author Nicole Gidaya, PhD. “More importantly, in our analysis we accounted for under-reporting of maternal depression in the register. This suggests that under-reporting of the confounder, maternal depression, may be a limitation in approaches previously used in the other studies.”

Gidaya, who performed this study while a doctoral student in the Drexel University School of Public Health, noted that “if the increased ASD risk we saw here is real, it is important to realize that the number of ASD cases that could be prevented by reducing SSRI exposure in pregnancy still represents only a small fraction of overall cases of ASD.”

The researchers further advised caution in interpreting the results in practice. Because of the challenges of distinguishing effects of medications from those of the condition indicating their use, more research in larger study populations will be needed to confirm the findings. In addition, the decision whether or not to use an SSRI in pregnancy is a complex one; pregnant women and their doctors need to consider women’s physical and mental health needs as well as other pregnancy-associated risks, including risks associated with untreated depression both during and after pregnancy.

However, the research team believes that the greater value of this finding is to direct further attention on understanding the mechanisms by which in utero SSRI exposure might influence the developing brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter whose use by the brain is altered during depression and modified by SSRI use, and has been shown to play an important role in brain development.

The authors of the current study point out that there is still a need for more population studies of possible associations between maternal SSRI use and autism, in light of the limitations of the present study and the conflicting results within the field’s previous studies of the question. They say future studies should use a large population sample where there is good quality data about exposure to medication, mental health diagnoses as well as ASD diagnoses.

“As we complete research in our attempts to understand autism’s causes we continue to realize that there are likely many genetic and non-genetic contributors,” said Craig Newschaffer, PhD, director of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute and professor in Drexel’s School of Public Health, and the study’s senior author. “We must begin trying to map these multiple risk factors on to common pathways, so that these pathways can be a focus in our effort to prevent the impairment associated with ASD.  Pathways involving the brain’s serotonin system are still one viable candidate.”

Gidaya performed this research with the support of funding from Drexel’s Office of International Programs which allowed her to travel to Denmark.

– See more at: http://drexel.edu/now/archive/2014/June/Antidepressants-Autism-Risk/

Child’s Autism Risk Accelerates with Mother’s Age Over 30

Originally posted on DrexelNow.

Older parents are more likely to have a child who develops an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than are younger parents. A recent study from researchers from the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia and Karolinska Institute in Sweden provides more insight into how the risk associated with parental age varies between mothers’ and fathers’ ages, and found that the risk of having a child with both ASD and intellectual disability is larger for older parents.

In the study, published in the February 2014 issue of the International Journal of Epidemiology, researchers report that fathers’ and mothers advancing ages have different impacts on their child’s risk. The rise in ASD risk with parental age was greater for older mothers as compared to older fathers.

“The open question at hand really is, what biological mechanisms underlie these age effects?” said Brian K. Lee, PhD, an assistant professor in the Drexel University School of Public Health and research fellow of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, and senior author of the study.  The observed differences in risk based on mothers’ and fathers’ ages point to a need to continue investigating underlying mechanisms of ASD that may be influenced by a mother’s age, Lee said, even though much recent discussion has focused on fathers’ and even grandfathers’ ages.

The risk of having a child with ASD had a more complicated relationship to age in women than in men – whose risk of fathering a child with ASD increased linearly with age across their lifespan. Among women giving birth before the age of 30, the risk of ASD in the child showed no association with age — it was simply very low. But for babies born to mothers aged 30 and older, the chance of developing ASD rose rapidly with the mother’s age.

Lee noted that the non-linear maternal age effect that is relatively stronger than the paternal age effect on ASD risk has been observed in previous studies, but has not received much attention.

Multiple mechanisms could be in play to account for the different patterns of risk, including environmental risk factors occurring in women after age 30. Factors such as complications in pregnancy could also underlie the effect of mothers’ ages on a child’s ASD risk but not a paternal age effect. The linear, steady increase in risk associated with fathers’ ages is consistent with the hypothesis of increased genomic alterations over the father’s lifespan that can increase risk of ASD, Lee said.

In this study, Lee and colleagues analyzed a large population registry sample of 417,303 children born in Sweden between 1984 and 2003, adjusted for numerous possible factors that could vary with parental age and also influence risk, such as family income and each parent’s psychiatric history.  The study also used a particularly comprehensive case-finding approach, to identify more ASD cases than other studies might, based on all pathways to care in a socialized health system.

A goal was to study these parental age effects in more detail by looking at possible differing risks of ASD with and without intellectual disability – one of the most serious comorbid diagnoses with ASD, with a significant impact on functional status in life. This was the first population-based study with an ASD sample large enough to study ASD risk in populations of children with and without intellectual disability.

“When considering risk factors, we can’t necessarily lump all ASD cases together, even though they fall under a broad umbrella of autism,” Lee said. “We need to keep an open mind in case intellectual disability might be a marker of a different underlying mechanism.”

The finding that ASD with intellectual disability had a stronger association with older parents, compared to ASD without intellectual disability, supports continued investigation of possible different mechanisms.

Lee noted that, although age effects are important indicators of risk at the population level that could eventually help researchers identify preventable causes of disability, they aren’t very significant for a couple’s family planning because the overall risk remains low. “The absolute risk of having a child with ASD is still approximately 1 in 100 in the overall sample, and less than 2 in 100 even for mothers up to age 45.”

– See more at: http://drexel.edu/now/archive/2014/April/Autism-Risk-Older-Parents/

Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum Face Tough Prospects for Jobs and Independent Living

Dr. Paul Shattuck

Originally posted on DrexelNow.

For young adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), making the transition from school to the first rites of independent adult life, including a first job and a home away from home, can be particularly challenging.

Two newly published studies show precisely how stark the situation is for finding success in employment and independent living among young adults on the autism spectrum, compared to their peers with other types of disabilities. The researchers emphasize the need to strengthen services to help adolescents and young adults and their families with transition planning.

“Roughly 50,000 youth with autism will turn 18 years old this year,” said Dr. Paul T. Shattuck, an associate professor in the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute and Drexel University School of Public Health, who co-authored both studies. “So many of these young people have the potential to work and participate in their communities. Supporting this potential will benefit everyone – the person with autism, the family, employers and society.”

Employment Outlook: Just Over Half with ASDs Had Ever Worked for Pay

In the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Shattuck’s team reports that young adults with autism spectrum disorders have worse employment outcomes in the first few years after high school than do peers who have other types of disabilities.

“Not only was the employment rate low for young people with ASDs when compared with young adults with other disabilities, but pay for jobs — if they got them — was significantly lower compared to young adults with other types of disabilities,” said Anne M. Roux, senior research coordinator at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, who led the employment study as a member of Shattuck’s research team while both were at Washington University in St. Louis.

They report that just over half (53.4 percent) of the young adults on the autism spectrum they surveyed had ever worked for pay outside the home within the first eight years after leaving high school. Only about one in five (20.9 percent) young adults with ASDs worked full-time at a current or most-recent job. Average pay was $8.10 per hour.

Employment rates, full-time employment status and average pay were substantially higher for young adults with other disabilities, including learning disabilities, emotional disturbance and speech/language impairment, compared to young adults with ASDs. The employment gap widened even farther when adjusted for differences in functional skills and conversational ability.

“The news is mixed,” Roux said. “This study highlights the particular difficulty that youth with autism are having during the transition into adulthood, especially youth from poorer households who are more likely to be disengaged from the services needed to secure and maintain a job.

“At the same time, half of young adults with an ASD did become employed, including youth with more challenging levels of impairment. This finding gives us hope for what might be possible with more effective preparation for employment, transition practices and workplace supports.”

In an independent editorial in the same journal issue, Dr. Patricia Howlin of King’s College London and the University of Sydney, wrote, “if young adults with autism miss out on this rite of passage, they risk transition into a world of social exclusion, financial hardship and significantly decreased quality of life. On the positive side, there is evidence that specialized, supported employment programs can be very helpful in assisting young people into work and in improving quality of life and even cognitive performance.”

Residential Status: Young Adults with ASD Less Likely to Live Independently

In another study published this week in the journal Autism, members of Shattuck’s research team report that young adults on the autism spectrum are less likely to have ever lived independently after high school, than adults with other disabilities.

This paper suggests that the years following high school are markedly different for young adults with ASDs compared to other disability categories,” said Kristy A. Anderson, a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the residential status study. “Notably, young adults on the autism spectrum have higher rates of coresidency in the parental home.”

Young adults on the autism spectrum were less likely to have ever lived independently since leaving high school, compared to their peers with other disabilities. More young adults with autism lived with their parents or guardians, and for longer periods of time, than did individuals with emotional disturbance, learning disability or intellectual disability. They also had the highest rates of living in a supervised living arrangement.

Young adults with an ASD also expe­rienced the highest rates of postsecondary residential continuity (79.1 percent).

“They are residing in the parental home at higher rates and longer time periods relative to peers with other disabilities, warranting family-based services in the years following high school exit,” Anderson said.

Despite the concurrent study on employment, the researchers found no association between having held a paying job and residential outcomes among young adults on the autism spectrum.

Long-Term Research Targets the Autism Services Cliff for Adolescents

The analyses of employment and residential status were both products of Shattuck’s widely recognized research program examining outcomes and service use among adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum. The needs of this age group are largely under-represented in research, even as many individuals diagnosed in childhood face a decline in available social services after they age out of the educational system.

The project involves long-term follow-up study on the outcomes of a large, nationally representative sample of young adults (National Longitudinal Transition Study—2). All of the participants were initially enrolled while receiving special education services in school; they or their parents completed regular follow-up surveys for up to 10 years after the student had completed high school.

“Many families tell us it’s like driving off a cliff when their child with autism exits high school because there just aren’t many options once they enter adulthood,” Shattuck said. “Our work highlights the enormous challenges facing this vulnerable population and their families. Experimenting with innovative solutions that can help these youth is a top priority at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute.”

– See more at: http://drexel.edu/now/archive/2013/September/Autism-Spectrum-Young-Adult-Transition-Studies/

Science and the Senses at the Museum: Academy of Natural Sciences Gets More Autism-Friendly

Drexel News Blog Dinosaur Hall at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Credit: Will Klein From the iconic T-Rex at the entrance to the active fossil prep lab tucked away in the back corner, Dinosaur Hall at the Academy of Natural Sciences of … Continue reading Science and the Senses at the Museum: Academy of Natural Sciences Gets More Autism-Friendly

Building an Autism-Friendly Space: A Tour of the Drexel Autism Institute’s Future Home

Drexel News Blog Staff members of the new A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, the first autism research organization focused on a public health science approach, tour their future office space. “We’re going to need an autism-friendly building.” Dr. Jennifer Plumb, a clinical social worker, made this … Continue reading Building an Autism-Friendly Space: A Tour of the Drexel Autism Institute’s Future Home