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Autism Research and Treatment Updates Lecture

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(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) - Internationally respected autism researchers Sally J. Rogers and Judy Van de Water will provide updates on clinical and research advances in autism spectrum disorder on Wednesday, April 16 during the Autism Awareness Month Minds Behind the MIND presentation at the UC Davis MIND Institute.

The event will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the MIND Institute auditorium, 2825 50th St., Sacramento. It is free and open to the public and no reservations are required. Research information will be available before the presentation, and an extended "ask the experts" session with the panelists will follow the discussion.

Rogers, a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, is the creator of the highly regarded Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) method of early intervention for autism spectrum disorder. She will discuss a program at a Sacramento-area high school to foster friendships and social ties between teens with autism and their typically developing peers. She will also provide updates on the progress of her research into developing effective interventions for infants and toddlers with autism and their families.

Van de Water is an immunologist and professor in the Department of Internal Medicine whose research examines the role of the immune system in autism. She is the director of the UC Davis Center for Children's Environmental Health, which seeks to better understand the effects of environmental exposures on children's health, particularly those with autism.

Van de Water's research has identified that specific antibodies target fetal brain proteins in the blood of some women whose children are later diagnosed with autism. It is the first to pinpoint a specific risk factor for a significant subset of autism cases, as well as a biomarker for drug development and early diagnosis. Maternal Autoantibody-Related, or MAR autism, affects as much as one quarter of autism cases.

The panel also will feature two community members, Antoinette and Fallon O'Neill. Fallon O'Neill will discuss his transition to adulthood with high-functioning autism in the academic and working worlds. He attends Sacramento City College and works part-time at Nugget Markets. His mother, Antoinette, will share her experiences helping her son navigate the complexities of participating in the state of California's Workability program and finding and maintaining employment.

The UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, Calif., was founded in 1998 as a unique interdisciplinary research center where families, community leaders, researchers, clinicians and volunteers work together toward a common goal: researching causes, treatments and eventual preventions and cures for neurodevelopmental disorders. The institute has major research efforts in autism, fragile X syndrome, chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Down syndrome. More information about the institute and its Distinguished Lecturer Series, including previous presentations in this series, is available on the Web at http://mindinstitute.ucdavis.edu.