INTRODUCTION

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND


Training Overview

The Marcus Autism Center has become a nationally recognized NIH Autism Center of Excellence for the provision of coordinated and comprehensive services for individuals with autism and related developmental disabilities, as well as a hub of social neuroscience and clinical research. These services are often interdisciplinary in nature; and providers include developmental pediatricians, psychiatrists, geneticists, genetic counselors, nurses and nurse practitioners, occupational and speech therapists, clinical & school psychologists, social workers, special educators, and family support personnel.

The Internship at Marcus offers a tailored curriculum providing didactic and clinical training designed to meet the skill level and learning objectives of each intern. The internship offers the opportunity to match in one of two tracks focusing on either (1) applied behavioral analysis and other behavioral treatment modalities; or (2) diagnostic and clinical assessment of autism spectrum and developmental disorders. Although they emphasize distinct areas of practice, both tracks endeavor to (A) train providers with the core skills required to provide clinical assessment and treatment services, to children and families, (B) create a learning environment where people effect treatment, research, and teaching characterized by respect, openness, and compassion toward others, and (C) foster skills, values, and awareness that promote the application of research science to innovate clinical practice within a pediatric medical clinic.

Treatment Track (6 positions)

The Treatment Track meets the internship’s core competencies in assessment, treatment, consultation, and professional development through two 6-month major clinical rotations, one year-long minor rotation, and a brief rotation in diagnostic assessment. Interns are matched with a clinical area of primary interest through the national match, and then they are assigned to other clinical areas, based on interest and availability. Core positions within the Treatment Track include a focus in skills acquisition within the Language and Learning Clinic (2 positions), understanding and treating Severe Behavior Disorders (2 positions),and assessment and treatment of Pediatric Feeding Disorders (2 positions). The Treatment Track affords experiences in clinical programs that serve many common forms of childhood psychopathology, a spectrum of mental and physical disabilities, medically related behavior disorders, brain injury, and neurological disorders, but also affords experience in assessing and treating other common childhood difficulties.

Assessment Track (2 positions)

The Assessment Track provides training through a one-year long major rotation in diagnostic assessment, a 6-month major clinical rotation in the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Department of Neuropsychology, a 6-month major clinical rotation in a program of the interns’ choice, and a one-year long minor rotation in RUBI Parent Training Program. Interns are matched with a clinical area of primary interest through the national match. Core positions within the Assessment Track include the Clinical Assessment & Diagnostic program (1 position), and the Clinical Assessment Core of the Research Program (1 position). The assessment track emphasizes early and accurate diagnosis of autism spectrum and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Research

The Internship faculty has an internationally renowned research program and a consistent record of research productivity. Whenever possible, interns are supported fully to participate in ongoing research projects encountered through clinical services. Interns may elect to participate in ongoing studies directed by faculty and/or to initiate independent research compatible with the Internship’s mission. Each intern is required to complete at least one research project, separate from the dissertation, that results in a professional product (poster, paper, manuscript), usually as first author. A list of representative faculty publications is available here. Historically, trainees have been active in research activities as evidenced by the number of publications that have included trainees. (Asterisks indicate co-authorship by doctoral interns or post-doctoral fellows.)

Supervision

At least one licensed psychologist is responsible for providing close supervision of the intern's performance on each clinical case. Interns consult daily with a faculty case manager to review case responsibilities, selection and implementation of measurement and treatment procedures, data interpretation, and treatment planning. In addition, there are opportunities for direct observations with feedback both in vivo and by video recording, as well as co-therapy with faculty members. Throughout the Marcus Autism Center there are rooms equipped with two-way mirrors and/or video recording equipment that feed live or recorded video to any computer in the building—including in faculty offices. The program strictly adheres to the APA guidelines of two hours of individual and group supervision.

Resource and Environment

Just 2 miles from the main campus of the university, Marcus Autism Center has provided clinical services to more than 16,000 individuals and families with 5000 or more unique patients served annually. More than 25 treatment rooms and 9 assessment rooms are equipped with one-way mirrors in connected observation rooms and video recording systems that allow for live viewing or review of recorded videos. There is a Social Neuroscience Laboratory equipped with numerous eye tracking devices for infants, toddlers, and school-age children; a Spoken Communication Laboratory with a motion capture system, high speed camera, and audiovisual speech perception; an EEG Laboratory; a phlebotomy room, and a 4-D research ultrasound system. There are 3 indoor play rooms, 2 multipurpose rooms, a childcare/family room, and 2 outdoor play areas. Interns provide services throughout these facilities. The Internship maintains a supply all materials needed for assessment or treatment sessions, and it has software programs specifically designed for collecting, analyzing, summarizing, and graphing direct-observation data. The data from treatment sessions are collected on computers, saved to a shared computer server and reviewed daily in supervision sessions. Each intern has a workstation and desktop computer capable of analyzing and graphing treatment or assessment data. In addition, interns have access to all the library and related research resources afforded by Emory University of Medicine.