A Spectrum of Promise: A multidisciplinary approach to autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders

Professor highlights autism research at Science Knight Out

In a recent public science talk at the John G. Shedd Institute, the UO’s Laura Lee McIntyre drew from her own research and personal experiences, as well as the work of her colleagues, to provide insights into autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Part of an ongoing series hosted by the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, the free talk drew scores of community members seeking to share in the Knight Campus mission of sharing the excitement and creativity of scientific research.

As associate director of the UO’s Child and Family Center at the Prevention Science Institute, McIntyre studies autism spectrum disorders, early childhood intervention and education and behavioral disorders. Her talk was titled “A Spectrum of Promise: A multidisciplinary approach to autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.”

In it, McIntyre laid out the complexity that researchers like her are facing in uncovering the causes and possible methods of treatment and prevention for a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects one in 68 children. Among the strategies that McIntyre has worked on are “interventions,” or programs that target parents of autistic children.

“We are developing a substantial body of work demonstrating that when we intervene with families, when we focus on parents, not only do we see collateral effects across different behaviors and contexts and settings, but teachers are reporting that children (with autism) are doing better in school,” McIntyre said.

Prior to her talk, UO’s Patrick Phillips discussed the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact, a $1 billion initiative to fast-track scientific discoveries into innovations that improve quality of life for people in Oregon, the nation and the world. He showed an informational video detailing the architectural designs for the first phase of construction on the new initiative.

Phillips, a professor in the UO Department of Biology and the Institute of Ecology and Evolution who serves as the acting executive director of the Knight Campus, introduced McIntyre and led a lively question-and-answer session with the audience following her talk.