Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
Systems of Care
The focus of my research interests is varied but the common themes involve underserved populations, developmental disabilities, screening and intervention. I work within a team of clinicians and researchers to understand disparities in access to services among children with developmental disabilities, improving developmental screening rates in the community, improving health and clinical services for children with developmental disabilities.
Another area of interest has been in pediatric obesity prevention in children with developmental disabilities. We are actively engaged in partnering in the community to develop effective obesity interventions.
Research In Progress
My areas of research include a number of conditions that impact children with developmental disabilities with an overall goal of improving early identification through screening, improving health and improving access to clinical intervention and services with a focus on supporting families. Current research projects include:
- Autism in Urban Context: Linking heterogeity with health and service disparities.
- Autism Treatment Network, improving health in children with ASD.
- Genotype-phenotype of behaviors observed in children with Rett Syndrome.
- Oral health in children with special health care needs.
- Motivational interviewing in obesity management.
- Implementation of body works for obesity prevention in an at-risk community.
- Advanced directives and implementation policies in an educational setting.
- Correlation between carotid intima thickening, flow-mediated vasodilation and left ventricular diastolic function in preadolescent obese children.
- Characteristics of brown fat in overweight and normal weight children.
Children with ASD and access to Emergency Department services.
We found that children with ASD use the Emergency Department for services during times when primary care provider offices are open for care (weekdays during daytime hours) and are diagnosed with the same conditions as typically developing children.
Cardiovascular risk factors in preschool-aged children.
Through medical screening of preschoolers living in underserved areas of Los Angeles, we found a high prevalence of overweight, obesity (>50%), hypertension and developed interventions for weight control and increased activity within the preschool setting.
Vision and hearing screening in at-risk preschoolers.
Vision and hearing screening relies heavily on understanding instructions for screening and behavior. Preschoolers tend to have difficulty participating in traditional screening methods and thus vision and/or hearing deficits may be missed. We developed a system of medical screening that could be easily adopted by school nurses to screen preschoolers for both vision and hearing to identify and intervene in those at risk.
My current funding reflects the diversity of interests in education, research and community-based interventions. The support improves and implements new models of care for children with developmental disabilities and special health care needs.
- Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND).
T-73MC00008-17 (Baer), DHHS/HRSA/MCHB, LEND Faculty Member
The purpose of this study is to recruit and train annually long-term and short-term disciplines representing culturally, racially and linguistically diverse communities, to meet the LEND competencies in the interdisciplinary, family-centered, culturally competent care of children, with or at-risk for neurodevelopmental and related disabilities with special emphasis on ASD.
International Rett Syndrome Foundation
Medical Director, Co-Investigator.
Providing interdisciplinary specialty care for children with Rett Syndrome and exploring the genotype and phenotype of behaviors observed in children with Rett Syndrome; examining the correlation of phenotype severity and specific MecP2 mutations in children with Rett Syndrome.
Autism Speaks, Autism Treatment Network, Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health.
“Outreach to Community Physicians.”
Develop a didactic lecture series provided to community based physicians reviewing autism spectrum disorders, approach and implementation of screening in the office setting and available community based resources.
Autism Speaks, Autism Treatment Network (ATN)
The ATN is the nation's first network of hospitals and physicians dedicated to developing a model of comprehensive medical care for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. The ATN is dedicated to developing better ways to identify, manage and treat the physical health conditions of children with autism. ATN sites are committed to developing standards and guidelines for evaluating and treating physical conditions associated with autism, and to sharing these standards with a wide variety of other clinical programs. The ATN is committed to developing standard treatment protocols for physical health conditions based on proven clinical experience and evidence from the registry and related clinical research projects.