Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

daSILVA Architects

Name of Innovative Program: 
The Center for Autism and the Developing Brain
Sponsoring Organization
daSILVA Architects
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Catherine Lord, Ph.D.
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
 The Center for Autism and the Developing Brain located on New York-Presbyterian’s 214 acre Westchester Campus, serves children, adults and families with Autism Spectrum Disorders right now.CADB is the result of NYCA’s collaboration with New York-Presbyterian Hospital and its affiliated medical schools, Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University.Led by Catherine Lord, Ph.D., one of the foremost experts in the diagnosis and treatment of ASD, CADB represents a fundamental transformation in the way patients with ASD and their families access therapeutic services. As diagnosis is confirmed, gap services allow for the earliest therapeutic interventions to take place. Comprehensive treatment by multi-disciplinary staff allow for treatment of co-morbid conditions to occur in a collaborative environment that is patient- and family-centered.In addition to offering a whole repertoire of different treatment options, the center will be working with parents, families, and communities to make those treatments as effective as possible.
Creativity and Innovation: 
 Moving from diagnosis, assessment, and evaluation the center will focus on treatment and working with the community.Catherine Lord is interested in building on evidence-based treatments that have scientific data to support them, but also recognizing that children and adults with ASD are unique, as are their families, and there is a need to create individualized plans that build on strengths and weaknesses, work with what is available in communities, and recognize that there may be multiple ways to accomplish a goal.The Center will be using the Early Start Denver Model with young children, as well as aspects of the Early Social Interaction parent-oriented program, Pivotal Response Training, and various approaches to applied behavior analysis. It will also be combining direct treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy with community-based social networks and parent involvement.
 “My goal is nothing short of transforming the way autism is treated,” says Catherine Lord, PhD ’76, who has arguably done more than anyone to shape our current understanding of how to diagnose and evaluate the disorder. The author of more than 160 peer-reviewed papers and nine books, she led the development of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule and the Autism Diagnostic Interview, international benchmarks for the early identification of children on the autism spectrum. In 2011, she left the University of Michigan’s Autism and Communication Disorders Center, which she had directed for almost ten years, to head New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s new Center for Autism and the Developing Brain.She is currently serving on the panel of researchers revising the definition of the disorder for a new version of the all-important Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, DSM-5, to be published by the American Psychiatric Association. 
 The building’s systems were designed in compliance with LEED for HEALTHCARE guidelines.
 As a leader in the assessment and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, CADB recognizes the need to teach, train and assist other professionals in order to build capacity in the community and beyond. To accomplish this CADB offers a variety of training opportunities to clinicians and researchers, both junior and senior.  These opportunities can be didactic in nature (e.g., workshops, trainings in specific diagnostic instruments) as well as part and full-time training positions (e.g., post-doctoral fellowships). In order to support our community, CADB staff provide consultation to local schools and agencies.CADB offers clinical research opportunities.  In addition to clinical research, we collaborate with investigators studying the genetic and neuro-scientific aspects of ASD, environmental influences, and brain imaging studies of neural circuits that change with ASD therapy.  
 The objective is to figure out what are the core symptoms of autism, what differentiates it from other disorders, and what are reliable, valid, and efficient ways to identify kids with autism. Then, it is important to figure out how their behavior changes over time, both in response to treatment and also naturally. So that has implications for the measurement of prevalence, as one moves toward a more accurate characterization of autism.