Bridging science and practice: FSU experts support autism awareness

April is Autism Acceptance Month, an opportunity to raise public awareness and support for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Florida State University experts work to promote interdisciplinary research that advances our understanding of autism and bridges the gap between scientific knowledge and clinical/educational practice.

Faculty from the College of Medicine and the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences are available to speak to media reporting on autism.

Veronica Fleury

Associate Professor, College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences

Fleury researches how to optimize learning opportunities for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Her work explores how core behavioral characteristics of ASD promote or inhibit students' ability to participate in learning activities and how to identify instructional strategies to address academic and social-communication difficulties for young children with ASD. She also researches how to promote the adoption of evidence-based practices for individuals with ASD in school and community settings.

"The number of children identified with ASD has increased markedly over recent decades -; one in 36, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control survey. Consistent with these figures, the number of students identified with ASD being served in school special education programs has risen. Now, more than ever, we need effective, sustainable and socially valid strategies to help this population succeed in various educational settings. My research focuses on optimizing learning opportunities for individuals with ASD by developing and validating instructional strategies to address early academic difficulties, with an emphasis on early literacy; investigating factors that influence consumers' understanding and acceptance of ASD interventions; and systematically identifying areas of strength and gaps in our knowledge to inform future research."

Amy Wetherby

Distinguished Research Professor, College of Medicine, and director of FSU Autism Institute

Wetherby develops and implements screening tools for ASD and communication delays in large population-based samples of children 9-24 months of age. She is a fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and has more than 40 years of clinical experience. She also served on the DSM-5 Neurodevelopmental Workgroup of the American Psychiatric Association, which revised the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disorders.

"We know that early detection of autism is crucial for improving treatment for children. By identifying autism early, intervention can take advantage of the plasticity of the brain in the first three years of life. With early diagnosis and intervention, children with autism are more likely able to be included in regular classrooms from preschool to kindergarten and beyond. Tools developed by the team at the FSU Autism Institute, such as Autism Navigator and Baby Navigator, help to speed up diagnosis during this critical period."


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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