The Autism Program is in the Division of Clinical Behavioral Neuroscience in the Department of Pediatrics. The focus is on diagnostic evaluation, treatment, and consultation on autism and related conditions in individuals from birth through adulthood and their families. Diagnostic evaluations follow an evidence-based, best practice framework in which the child’s needs related to autism are understood within the context of their overall development. Treatment services also implement evidence-based programs for improving social skills, transition to adulthood, reducing anxiety, and improving parent-child interactions that promote development. A strong emphasis is placed on obtaining research-level reliability on behavioral measures for autism to ensure the highest quality evaluations, as well as having close coordination and interaction with the autism community and available resources to be able to connect families with needed services. To this end, fellows will be expected to participate in at least one community/advocacy committee for autism during their tenure. Understanding of the variety of psychiatric and developmental diagnoses, as well as performing differential diagnosis, is another strong emphasis. Because of the complex medical and behavioral needs of most children with autism and related conditions, the fellow within the Autism Program will participate and work cooperatively with many subspecialty services of the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Psychiatry.
Patients are referred to the Autism and Neurodevelopment Clinic both from within the M Health network and UMMCH as well as from the community. We see patients across the spectrum and specialize in complex cases where patients have multiple co-occurring conditions. Psychotherapeutic services may include behavioral consultation, cognitive-behavioral therapy, parent counseling, treatment groups for social skill and practical skill development, and parent-child interaction therapy.
The Autism Program includes an active evaluation service involving psychological/neuropsychological assessments. The evaluation includes a full developmental and psychological assessment with a focus on differential diagnosis and treatment planning. Some evaluations include a team evaluation with a developmental behavioral pediatrician or psychiatrist, where medical history, co-occurring diagnoses, and medical needs are more fully incorporated. The Autism Program’s treatment groups include cognitive-behavioral therapy to improve anxiety, social skills instruction, and supporting independent living skills for transition to adulthood and work life. The groups all contain a parent psychoeducational component and parent support. Individual and parent-child therapy models follow a cognitive behavioral and/or applied behavior/developmental approach.
• Current Assessment Populations o Autism spectrum disorder o Fragile X syndrome o Children at-risk for autism (siblings, history of prematurity) o Other genetic conditions that overlap with autism (Williams syndrome, NF1, etc.) o Other psychiatric and neurodevelopmental conditions or concerns that overlap with autism
Clinical Activity Plan (70% time)
To ensure that the fellow receives a high level of clinical training in the area of autism and related conditions, the following activities will be required during the fellowship: • Clinical assessment: The fellow will perform psychological/neuropsychological evaluations conducted with individuals suspected of having autism. The fellow will conduct 2 evaluations per week at UMMCH and will be individually supervised on each case by a staff psychologist. The fellow will participate in all aspects of assigned cases, including clinical interviews, face-to-face assessment, scoring/interpretation of results, report writing, and family diagnostic feedback sessions. • Intervention: The fellow will work with staff psychologists to co-lead or lead at least one treatment group per week. Depending on the fellow’s interest, they will also conduct one individual therapy or parent-child interaction therapy session per week. (The fellow would have the option of replacing individual/parent-child therapy with an additional treatment group.). The fellow will also participate in treatment services involved with planning and facilitating treatment programs, such as therapy intakes for families interested in treatment services and family therapy sessions that support ongoing treatment groups. • Professional Development: At the completion of the first year of fellowship, the fellow will be eligible to become a licensed psychologist.
Research Activity Plan (20% time)
The fellow will be exposed to various aspects of clinical research work. This is achieved via participation in the following activities: • Review of autism literature: The fellow will be provided with a series of readings in the area of autism and related conditions, primary in areas of diagnostic assessment, intervention, and policy. • Study coordination: The fellow will collaborate with Drs. Esler and Hudock in ongoing research projects evaluating treatment groups for autism, conducting telehealth intervention and consultation, following the needs of individuals with fragile X syndrome, and estimating autism prevalence. In addition, opportunities are also available for the fellow to access our clinic database, which includes diagnostic assessment measures and information, to develop manuscripts. • Independent Research: The fellow will be encouraged to develop research projects of interest to them that can be conducted with our available clinical populations or through collaborations with other research labs within the U of M system. • Grant writing: The fellow will be offered support, which may include participation in grant writing seminar, should they wish to develop a grant idea during the fellowship years. • Manuscript preparation and submission: The fellow will be encouraged to collaborate on manuscript preparation and poster submissions at national and international conferences. Individually tailored goals will be established in this area.
Administration and Didactics (10% time)
• The fellow will be required to participate in monthly clinician group meetings where cases and issues related to autism are discussed, as well as biweekly staff meetings. Optional didactics available to the fellow include Pediatric Grand Rounds and seminars through the Center for Neurobehavioral Development (CNBD). • The fellow will be expected to participate in a community-based advocacy or policy group for autism or a related condition (e.g., EIDBI provider group, Autism Speaks, Fragile X Consumer Support Network).
Qualified candidates will have a doctoral degree and clinical internship from an APA/CPA accredited program in Clinical, Developmental, or School Psychology and specialty training in autism and neurodevelopmental disorders. Candidates should also be knowledgeable about standards of care for ASD diagnostic evaluations and evidence-based interventions. Applicants must be license-eligible in Minnesota.
Research reliability with the ADOS-2 and ADI-R are highly preferred, but not required. Board Certified Behavioral Analyst credential is preferred, but not required.
Internal Number: 339058
About University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
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