In the News

New VKC Video Briefs series highlights research, introduces new products to the public

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) has introduced a new series of short (3-5 minutes), sharable videos on research study opportunities, study results, new toolkits, and online courses available to the public. The researcher speaks in accessible, easy-to-understand terms about the study, including what prompted him/her to explore the topic, goals and outcomes, and participant eligibility requirements. Videos include links to additional information such as a lab website or a contact person’s name and information.

Supporting Teens and Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum: Setting and Pursuing Self-Determined Goals

“Supporting Teens and Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum: Setting and Pursuing Self-Determined Goals” is a toolkit and online course designed to help parents and caregivers, teachers, siblings, service providers, and others who support teens and young adults on the autism spectrum as they set and pursue self-determined goals...This publication was developed and written by T A McDonald, Ph.D., and Beth Malow, M.D., MS, with input from Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D., Whitney Loring, Psy.D., and Ivy Chen, B.A. Debbie Wofford coordinated the development of the Toolkit.

Two new research grants to identify ways to improve job/school maintenance and address depression in adults with autism

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) investigator Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D., recently secured two research grants to study quality of life for adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). One grant will focus on ways to support individuals in their work and school, and the other will study specific day-to-day experiences associated with depressive symptoms in their lives.

Research centers established to support individuals with disabilities, their parents as they enter transition age, seek gainful employment

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) researcher Erik Carter, Ph.D., has introduced two new Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers (RRTCs) focusing on supporting youths with disabilities, as well as their parents, as they transition into adulthood and begin to seek employment and adult services...Erik Carter will be working closely alongside Elise McMillan and Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D., to facilitate the two training centers.

Study seeks to improve social competence in adults with autism

Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center are investigating whether participation in a specially designed theatre program can improve social competence in adults with autism. The study, backed by $1.3 million in funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, is led by Blythe Corbett, Ph.D., Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) investigator and professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at VUMC, who established the SENSE Theatre intervention research program in 2009...Co-investigators for the study include Sasha Key, Ph.D. (VKC Investigator, Hearing & Speech Sciences); Leah Lowe, Ph.D. (Vanderbilt University Department of Theatre); Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D. (VKC Investigator, Pediatrics); Simon Vandekar, Ph.D. (Biostatistics); Emelyne Bingham (VKC Member, Blair School of Music); Rosevelt Noble, Ph.D. (Sociology); and Katherine Gotham, Ph.D. (Rowen University).

Program for parents aims to help youths with autism successfully transition to adulthood

A 12-week training program will be offered in Naperville, Illinois, for parents of youths and young adults with autism so they can help their children successfully transition to adulthood. The Advocating for Supports to Improve Service Transitions program is open to parents of young people ages 16-26 who have an autism spectrum disorder.

Vanderbilt earns $19M in federal funding for special education training and research

Vanderbilt University’s No. 1 ranked Department of Special Education has been awarded more than $19 million in federal funding to support intensive interventions for children, young people and adults with a wide array of disabilities.

The Coming Care Crisis as Kids With Autism Grow Up

“It’s profoundly difficult for families to get the resources they need, especially middle- and lower-income families who need the funding the most,” says Julie Lounds Taylor, an associate professor of pediatrics and special education at Vanderbilt University. “So a lot of the time, parents end up essentially devoting their entire lives to fighting on behalf of their children.”

For adults with autism, a lack of support when they need it most

“I really do expect to see huge changes in terms of what we know about how to support adolescents and adults with autism over the next 10 years or so,” says Julie Lounds Taylor, a Vanderbilt University developmental psychologist who studies the transition to adulthood for people with autism. “I would not have said that two years ago.”