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Funded Projects

Bridging the Gap and Integrating the Pieces: Enhancing Autism Services Across the Lifespan in Brooklyn

Grant Status: Active

Training Category: Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities (LEND)

Project Director(s):

Harris Huberman, MD, MPH
SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University
Research Foundation for the State University of New York
451 Clarkson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY  11203
Phone: (718) 270-2272


In Brooklyn accessing evaluation and treatment services for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental disabilities (ND) is extremely challenging. There are significant health disparities both in the timing and quality of initial diagnostic evaluation and in the availability of evidence-based treatments for poor families and families of color. Significant factors include limited community awareness and shortage of qualified and culturally responsive providers to evaluate and provide critical evidence-based treatments such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).

Goals and Objectives:

The proposed program has several inter-related goals:

  • The first is to improve and expand capacity for early and accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of ASD and/or ND, starting in early childhood and extending through adulthood.
  • The second is to build a cadre of neurodevelopmental providers who are culturally responsive and fully understand the larger family, social and community context of children and adults with ASD and ND's.
  • The third is to increase community awareness and strengthen connections between evaluation, treatment and training programs and families, and community organizations.

We propose an integrated, holistic, interprofessional model of ASD/ND services, building on existing programs at SUNY Downstate and its neighboring institutions. We will create an interdisciplinary Autism Center of Excellence Training and Education Program (ACETEP), provide long term training (LTT) to 7 trainees and medium (MTT) and short term (STT) training to practitioners from diverse fields and backgrounds. The program will include:

  • A core series of interdisciplinary courses for all trainees
  • An interdisciplinary / interprofessional team approach,
  • Further didactic and practicum experience for:
    • diagnosis and evaluation
    • Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Speech Therapy (ST), Occupational Therapy (OT) evidence-based treatments
    • neuroscience and its clinical and treatment implications
    • entry-level ABA practitioner MTT and STT training
  • Emphasis on practicum experience and field placements
  • Ongoing cross-track team meetings and case discussions
  • A capstone requirement for LTT trainees to address problems at a community / policy level
  • Ongoing technical and Continuing Education support for trainees and others in the community


Short- and long-term outcomes will be assessed with objective indices of age of diagnosis, services received, and educational progress of samples of individuals with ASD / ND's in the surrounding communities. We will also assess the knowledge, proficiency and performance of the trainees throughout their training, and at 2, 5 and 10 years after program completion.
SUNY Downstate and its partners offer a robust setting for a LEND program: a renowned academic center including a School of Health Professions, early child development programs, adult programs, established programs dedicated to diversity and health disparities, active ASD research, and a long history of engagement with families and community around ASD.