Center News

The Important Role of Psychiatrists in Meeting the Needs of Autistic Children and Adults

When people think of supportive services for autism, they often imagine specially trained teachers, psychologists, social workers, or speech and occupational therapists. They don’t always think of psychiatrists. But they should.

Autistic children and adults often experience co-occurring psychiatric conditions. Some studies suggest that up to 70 percent of autistic people have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Up to 50 percent suffer from anxiety disorders, and many autistic individuals also experience depression and other psychiatric conditions.

Trainee Spotlight: Adesuwa Emovon, MMCi

Clinical Research that Improves Access to Healthcare and Empowers Caregivers

Adesuwa Emovon has always enjoyed working with children, whether it involved teaching them a new concept or playing games. As a graduate student, she sought out the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development to broaden her experience in working with children with disabilities and their families and learn more about research. 

Improving Medical Care for Autistic Patients in the Duke University Health System and Beyond

Going to the doctor can be stressful for anyone. All that poking and prodding, the lab work, and the concern that brought you to the clinic in the first place can combine to make even a regular checkup a taxing experience. 

Now imagine arriving for that same clinical visit with the unique sensitivities and needs that can accompany an individual on the autism spectrum. 

Trainee Spotlight: Angel Huang, PhD

Duke AI Health Fellow

In the United States, one in 36 children is diagnosed with autism. Early detection of autism ensures timely access to intervention, and accurate screening is a critical first step to diagnosis and linkage to early services. Sophisticated computational tools, such as machine learning models, may increase autism screening accuracy and help reduce disparities in access to diagnosis and intervention.

Trainee Spotlight: Helen Root, PhD

 A Well-Rounded Experience in Assessment, Intervention, & Supervision to Better Serve Families

Base running is not typically mentioned in relation to the clinical psychology training experience, unless the trainee happens to be a learner at the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development. For Helen Root, Ph.D., who was part of the 2022-2023 class in Duke University Medical Center’s Clinical Psychology Doctoral Internship Program, rounding the bases was indeed a highlight of her time at Duke.

Creating a Neurodiversity-Affirming Environment for Autistic Students at Duke

How can Duke faculty teach in ways that help students on the autism spectrum thrive in the classroom setting?

A new project to help Duke faculty create a neurodiversity-affirming teaching environment is underway within the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development. Funded by the faculty advancement office, the one-year grant promises to enhance faculty understanding of neurodivergence across Duke’s schools and colleges.

Electronic Health Records Offer Clues to Why Autistic Girls are Diagnosed Later than Boys

Scientists have known for a while that boys are four times as likely to receive an autism diagnosis as girls, and they are also more likely to receive this diagnosis at a younger age—often before turning five. Co-occurring psychiatric and other medical conditions could be contributing to these sex differences, but until recently, obtaining reliable data about the timing of a child’s autism diagnosis and co-occurring health conditions has been challenging.

That problem might be finding a solution.

Duke Hosts Inaugural Meeting on Language in Autism

Elena Tenenbaum, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and faculty member at the Duke Center for Autism, has had a long-standing fascination with how children acquire language and has spent the past several years studying language development in autism. She is especially interested in understanding why some individuals never learn to speak and the best ways to facilitate effective communication skills for every individual.

The Molecular Roots of Autism: New Directions and New Methods

Several years ago, a young child and his parents came to the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development asking for help. The son had been diagnosed with autism, and the family was requesting a comprehensive assessment of his condition.  

Understanding the Overlap Between Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Anxiety

Autistic traits vary from person to person, impacting how individuals are identified as being autistic and when they receive their diagnosis, and they can also influence how individuals respond to different interventions. One factor contributing to this variability is the coexistence of autism with other conditions like anxiety and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Estimates suggest that 40-60% of autistic children also have anxiety and/or ADHD.

APA Podcast - Speaking of Psychology: How early detection could change autism diagnosis and intervention, with Geraldine Dawson, PhD

About 1 in 36 children in the U.S. has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Geraldine Dawson, PhD, of Duke University, discusses why the number of diagnoses has risen so steeply in recent years, why it’s more common in boys than girls, and how research using artificial intelligence and brain biomarkers is making it possible to detect autism risk at younger ages than before—even in infancy. Listen to the podcast on YouTube here

The Incredible Impact of Early Interventions: Autism Weekly Podcast

"It's important to get connected early. No one - regardless of where they live or what recources they have available to them - should have to wait extended periods of time to start services that can support child and family quality of life." 

Duke Center for Autism Associate Director Dr. Lauren Franz joins Autism Weekly podcast to discuss the power of early interventions, the need for healthcare access, and how our research is making a difference.

Psychiatric News: Visual Diagnostics Become More Accessible

In this Psychiatric News podcast, Duke Center for Autism Director Geraldine Dawson, PhD, and Duke University James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Guillermo Saprio, DSc, highlight the center's digital screening app and the future of eye-based tools to screen for autism.

Listen to the full podcast here.