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Shedding Light on National Autism Awareness Month: GW Experts Available to Comment

More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder and prevalence of the condition increased 119 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to the Autism Society. Experts from the George Washington University are available for comment during April’s National Autism Awareness Month.
 
To schedule an interview with any of the below experts, contact Emily Grebenstein at 202-994-3087 or emgreb@gwu.edu.
 
GW’s Flash Studio, a state-of-the-art broadcast studio, is available for remote, live or taped television and radio interviews. The studio is operated in partnership with VideoLink.
 
Laurie Alderman, research scientist in the Department of Special Education, is an expert on special education, disability studies and autism. Dr. Alderman has served as the coordinator of Autism Services for Arlington County Public Schools and has helped develop several programs within the school system for students with and without disabilities.
 
Donna Betts, professor of art therapy, studies the clinical utility of art therapy in addressing treatment goals of individuals with autism—such as increasing communication skills and emotional regulation, improving adaptive behavioral styles and facilitating cognitive growth and sensory integration. She also researches the reliability and validity of the Face Stimulus Assessment, a performance-based, non-verbal drawing instrument for individuals with autism that is used to identify a patient’s strengths and treatment goals, and determine progress. Dr. Betts is incoming president of the American Art Therapy Association.
 
Roy Grinker, professor of anthropology, international affairs and human sciences, is an expert on autism, mental illness and psychological anthropology in children. Dr. Grinker completed the first-ever epidemiological study of autism spectrum disorder in South Korea and is the author of many publications, including “Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism.”
 
Valerie Hu, professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine, developed a potential biomarker screen and is working on developing biology-based therapeutics based on gene expression signatures, which has identified genes that differentiate cells derived from autistic and non-autistic individuals. Her work using integrative genomics approaches has also led to the identification of a gene that may be a major contributor to the male bias in autism as well as to gene-environment interactions that increase risk for autism. Dr. Hu is the sole editor of a recently released book, "Frontiers in Autism Research: New Horizons for Diagnosis and Treatment," which focuses on emerging research areas of autism with potential translation to novel therapies.
 
Anthony-Samuel LaMantia, professor of pharmacology and physiology, is an expert on brain development and autism research. Dr. LaMantia’s lab explores genetic and molecular mechanisms of early forebrain development. 
 
Olga Acosta Price, associate professor of prevention and community health, is an expert on the role that schools play in helping adolescents with autism as they make the transition from high school to college or a career. She is the director of the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools at the Milken Institute School of Public Health.
 
Lorri Unumb, adjunct law professor, can speak about legislative reform and public policy related to health insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorders. Ms. Unumb is also the vice president for state and government affairs at Autism Speaks.
 
Greg Wallace, an assistant professor of speech and hearing sciences, is available to comment on cognitive strengths and difficulties as well as structural brain differences and development among individuals with autism spectrum disorder.
 
Thanks to the generous support of corporate and individual donors, 2015 will mark the fourth consecutive year GW will "Light It Up Blue" for autism awareness on its Foggy Bottom, Mount Vernon, and Virginia Science and Technology campuses. Developed by Autism Speaks and championed on campus by the GW Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (AND) Initiative, "Light It Up Blue" helps raise awareness and increase support for the millions of people around the world diagnosed with autism.