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CARD Mission: Improving Children's Quality of Life

July 20, 2009

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Boy dressed in fireman's attire during Center for Autism and Related Disabilities activity

In addition to individualized work, the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities hosts family events and two annual conferences, including one every fall which attracts more than 500 guests.

Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) director Kristin Christodulu is driven by her desire to improve the quality of life for children and their families. It's the reason she pursued a bachelor's degree in psychology and a doctoral degree in clinical psychology -- both from the University at Albany. It's also the reason she goes to work everyday.

"It's a very rewarding field, especially when you can see the results of your efforts," said Christodulu, who joined UAlbany faculty in 2002.

Mainly funded by legislative grants through the State Education Department, the Center provides resources and training workshops to families with children who have autism and professionals who work with them.

The Center's building on Western Avenue has a library of books, scientific journals and audio-multimedia that offer information on autism and related disabilities. It has a playroom and a meeting room for informational seminars. Staff members are resources for parents seeking information on how to improve self-help skills in children with autism or on where to look for a pediatrician. In addition to individualized work, the Center hosts family events and two annual conferences, including one every fall which attracts more than 500 guests.

UAlbany's Center also conducts research on topics including facilitating peer relationships in school classrooms and sleep disorders in children with autism. CARD recently completed a five-year, federally funded research project on reducing challenging behavior such as aggression, self-injury and tantrums among preschool children with developmental disabilities.

Child at Giants Training Camp, held at UAlbany

Mainly funded by legislative grants through the State Education Department, the Center provides resources and training workshops to families with children who have autism and professionals who work with them.

"We're trying to help the child and the family gain more independence," said Christodulu. "By working with the parents and the educators to develop skills, they are able to help their own children which is why this has been so successful."

CARD's success has also led to the expansion of similar programs in five sites across the state, not to mention expansion of its own programs. Christodulu plans to move its information and resources to the Internet and DVDs, making it more accessible to families in all regions of the state.

CARD is part of UAlbany's College of Arts & Sciences (CAS), the University's largest academic unit and intellectual base for study in a wide variety of disciplines at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

"The Center has been a regional and national leader in advancing knowledge in the field of autism for over 20 years and its programs have received tremendous legislative support. Its science-based training and educational programs have achieved remarkable results," said CAS Dean Edelgard Wulfert. "The College of Arts and Sciences, as the Center's administrative home, is proud to be part of the excellent work that Dr. Christodulu and her staff are performing."

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