Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) impact an estimated 1 in 54 children. Diagnosing
ASD early in life and providing intensive intervention is critical to helping children
living with ASD. In an effort to meet the needs of families and children with Autism
Spectrum Disorders, the Civitan International Research Center at the University of
Alabama at Birmingham, School of Medicine, and the Center for Innovative
Research in Autism at University of Alabama, College of Arts and Sciences, recently
co-hosted a 2-day virtual training on a gold-standard diagnostic measure, the
Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) -2nd Edition. Effective use of this
measure depends on intensive training and practice. Diagnosing a child with ASD
requires a provider to administer the ADOS; however, there are too few providers
who are adequately trained to give the test which leads to a prolonged delay for
families waiting on a diagnosis and to begin therapy for their child.
Dr. Cassandra Newsom, Director of the Civitan Autism and Neurodevelopmental
Disability Research Core at UAB and Dr. Rajesh Kana, Director of the Center for
Innovative Autism at UA, partnered together to bring a nationally recognized
expert in autism diagnosis to train providers and graduate trainees on the ADOS-2.
Dr. Rachel Hundley, Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University
Medical Center, led participants, via Zoom, in engaging and interactive training.
During the 2-day event, attendees watched diagnostic evaluations of children with
ASD, practiced scoring the ADOS-2, and discussed the research supporting this
method of diagnosis. Even though in-person learning has been hampered because
of COVID-19 restrictions, the virtual training allowed the event to reach providers
both within the state of Alabama and across the world; including 47 providers and
trainees from Alabama, 11 providers from across the United States, 5 providers
from India, and 1 from British Columbia.
Clinicians and Researchers at UAB and UA, who are trained in the diagnosis of
autism, will improve services for Alabama families and advance research into the
causes of autism and development of treatments. Drs. Kana and Newsom plan to
continue to build on this successful collaboration with future trainings and