Emory Autism Center, Atlanta, Ga.

The Emory Autism Center is designed to provide both models of direct intervention, as well as direct service, as well as training opportunities for professionals at all different levels. And research into the cause and course of treatment for individuals with autistic disorders. The range of programs spans from Walden Early Intervention Program, which is a demonstration model of early intervention using more innovative applied behavior analysis approaches, which are provided in the course of preschools, that include typically developing children along with children with autism. The emphasis is on teaching children language and social skills and they begin very young, as young as 15 months, and continue up until they're ready to go to kindergarten.

At the school age level we have a demonstration program that is aimed at providing children with autism opportunities to be included in general education classrooms. In this model approach, the Emory Autism Center's Monarch Program pairs with various school systems who have applied to be selected and then they go in and do really a systems change effort to provide the supports necessary to enable students with autism to be successful in public school classrooms.

At the adult level we have a range of programs for individuals functioning at all different levels, from those who may also have cognitive impairment and be functioning at a low level, along with those who may have Asperger disorder and may have normal IQs and yet continue to struggle with the problems inherent to autism spectrum disorders -- primarily the social problems.

We emphasize inclusion with typically developing individuals at this level as well. And so we have Emory college students and volunteers from the community, various church groups that come in and participate in social activities with our clients with autism spectrum disorders, and they go to community outings and volunteer in community activities. And the emphasis really is on helping them to enjoy a good quality of life.

In addition we offer services for families of individuals with autism, which include support groups for grandparents, for fathers, for all parents, and siblings. And they also involve intervention training for the parents of children with autism, both individually and in group settings.

One approach we're very pleased to offer is an intensive program where a family may come in from around Georgia or other states even to participate for a full week in a very intensive intervention that's used to address one goal. So it may be that we're toilet training a child, or adolescent even, that's never been toilet trained. And we can accomplish that in a week. In other cases, the family may want to emphasize getting their child sort of jump started on learning how to talk and we are often able to have a big impact in that area.

In addition we have medical services, both diagnostic program as well as medication services provided by our psychiatrist. We also have training programs that are designed to assist teachers, to assist psychologists. We have workshops that are provided to help them learn how to use various diagnostic instruments. And we train here in our programs both psychiatry residents, medical students during the summer internships. We have psychology graduate students and really students from a variety of walks of life who are interested in learning more about autism and how they may have an impact.