LSI founds autism research and training center

LSI founds autism research and training center 

The Life Span Institute rolled out its thirteenth affiliated center in July to address a disability that, despite its increasing diagnosis, remains baffling to scientists and overwhelming to families.

The Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training (K-CART) will support research and training on the causes, nature and management of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). These disorders affect more than 500,000 children in the United States and are more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined. It is the first new LSI center since 2002 and signals KU’s intent to assume a leadership role in generating new scientific discoveries about ASD.

Created through private and public funds, the multidisciplinary center is directed by Debra Kamps, a nationally recognized autism researcher at the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project. Matthew Reese, a child psychologist and director of the Center for Child Health and Development at the KU Medical Center, will co-direct.

Truly a multi-campus initiative, K-CART will be headquartered at the Edwards Campus in Overland Park in a suite of offices made possible by Edwards Campus Vice Chancellor Bob Clark. The space includes offices and a resource center for parents, teachers and support staff serving children with autism and other disabilities. Clinical services will be offered at the KU Medical Center. More than 40 affiliated scientists and research-clinicians are involved across all three KU campuses.

K-CART has already launched an ambitious new training program for Kansas providers working with children who have
ASD. Directed by Linda Heitzman-Powell, a researcher at Juniper Gardens and KUMC, the Autism Training Program (ATP) is geared to autism specialists, respite providers, family support providers and others working with individuals with ASD and their families. The ATP also is working with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services to train skilled providers for the state’s first Autism Waiver Program.

With more trained providers, Kansas families struggling with the effects of ASD will ultimately receive services where they need them most – their own homes and communities.