CARD Founder Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh Discusses the Future of Autism with LA Magazine

Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh
Executive Director, Center for Autism and Related Disorders Inc.

During the past two decades the incidence of autism has increased from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 100 children. While we are discovering the combined causes of genetic and environmental factors, the state of California is overwhelmed by its ongoing struggle to meet the needs of its residents afflicted with this disorder. These needs are continuously growing due to the sparseness of trained teachers in our schools as well as the desperate state of our budget, which results in ongoing cuts in funds allocated to the treatment and care of this disorder. As we search for ways to meet the demand for treatment and find early predictors that may help us remedy the problem at hand, we must not lose sight of the effectiveness of techniques already established and accepted, and we must focus our efforts on more efficient dissemination of these treatment modalities.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has been widely recognized as the single most effective form of treatment for autism. However, the proper use and administration of ABA depends on extensive training, which unfortunately leads to a deficiency of trained professionals. The only solution is a rapid and effective statewide training program that will enable our teachers to access and provide high-quality behavioral programs in our schools, thereby preventing the ongoing stress imposed upon our state budget. Such a training program can only be provided through the use of Internet technology. One such Web-based program—SKILLS (Shaping Knowledge Through Individualized Life Learning Systems)—has been positioned to provide online training for teachers, detailed assessment of each individual’s symptoms, and a comprehensive curriculum of lesson plans to address and improve each of these symptoms. Programs such as SKILLS are essential for our state to maintain its position as a leader in service provision for autism. We at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders have used this online system to train our therapists across not only our 12 California locations, but also our staff across our 20 sites nationally and internationally. It is our hope that through online training we will not only expand our team of 1,000 therapists, but we will also help equip our state’s school districts with the tools they need to meet the growth of autism in California.

In addition, continued efforts to bring health insurance coverage to California will reduce the financial strain on our educational system and will provide individuals with autism the care and treatment they have every right to receive.

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