Friends of NICHD Highlight Developmental Disabilities Research Progress
To celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Friends of NICHD and 22 of its member organizations sponsored a May 22 congressional briefing, coordinated by APA’s Karen Studwell, the current chair of the coalition. The purpose of the event was to highlight the research successes and ongoing progress the institute is making in the areas of intellectual and developmental disabilities. NICHD Director Duane Alexander, MD, spoke first and gave the audience of nearly 100 attendees an overview of the advances the institute has made in addressing disorders such as autism, Down syndrome, and Fragile X syndrome. He was followed by Jana Monaco, a parent of two children with a rare metabolic disorder that caused severe neurological impairments in her son due to a delayed diagnosis. Her daughter benefited from an early diagnosis and interventions and continues to be a healthy five-year-old.
The second panel included Pat Levitt, PhD, Director, Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, who shared the latest genetics findings in autism research. Steve Warren, PhD, Director, Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center and President of APA’s Division on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, explained that to understand problems that occur in development, we must appreciate the normal developmental process, which is driven by both heredity and the environment and continue to find effective, science-based interventions. Marsha Mailick Seltzer, PhD, Director, Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, spoke about the long-term impacts of these disorders on the family as parents adjust to a lifetime of caregiving for their children as they grow into adulthood.