April is Autism Awareness Month and Autism appreciation matters.

By Jess Corinne
April 30, 2021

“Autism is not a disease. It’s more like a trait that may or may not translate into a disability. Whether or not it translates to a disability is within our power to influence.”

-Dr. Ami Klin

In honor of Autism Awareness month, we felt it only right to spotlight one of the most influential and celebrated researchers in the field, Dr. Ami Klin.  According to the National Autism Association, the diagnosis has impacted many lives across all socioeconomic borders and is averaging 1 in 54 as of today. Klin would argue, however, that we all have Autistic traits in us. The way in which said traits present is what might warrant the diagnosis. Boys are 4-5 times more likely to receive the diagnosis and some say this is due to the fact that girls present their symptoms differently and, thus, go undiagnosed. There is hope for our society as a whole to acquire a heightened cognizance about what Autism Spectrum Disorder truly is thanks to the efforts of Dr. Klin and like-spirited researchers. 

Dr. Ami Klin is an internationally recognized clinical psychologist, researcher, and the Director of Marcus Autism Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University School of Medicine, the largest center of clinical care for children with Autism and their families and one of only three NIH Autism Centers of Excellence. Dr. Klin is also a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, Professor, and Division Chief, Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics.  Dr. Klin earned his doctorate from the University of London and completed clinical and research post-doctoral fellowships at the Yale Child Study Center. Until 2010, he directed the Autism Program at the Yale Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine, where he was the Harris Professor of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.  Dr. Klin is also the author of more than 200 publications in the field of autism and related conditions. 

Dr. Klin’s primary research activities focus on the emergence of social mind and brain, and disruptions thereof in autism, from infancy through adulthood. One area of emphasis in this work is a longstanding collaboration with Dr. Warren Jones in which eye-tracking technology is used to conceptualize and measure social engagement particularly in infancy. Eye-tracking is useful in diagnosing those with Autism because it allows practitioners to gauge the level of attention with specific stimuli as well as their theory of mind (the ability to take other’s perspectives, beliefs and intentions). Tracking eye movements and, thus, providing diagnostic insight in infancy allows young learners to receive highly effective early interventions that could potentially shift their life-long trajectory. This program of research has more recently focused on monitoring infants at increased risk for developmental disabilities, from birth, in order to determine and to detect the earliest markers of Autism. Klin and his team are, therefore, hoping to lower the age of detection and to improve access to early treatment with the goal of strengthening outcomes for learners and their families.

As is always true, if you have met one learner with ASD, you have met one learner with ASD. No two learners on the spectrum present the same and, therefore, cannot be treated the same way. There is more certainty, however, in the ways in which we diagnose learners on the spectrum which Dr. Klin has so profoundly proven. In his efforts, he has also managed to shift the perception of the diagnosis altogether, shaping society’s lens as to what it truly means to have the diagnosis.

To learn more about Dr. Klin’s findings, perspective and the like, please view one of his accessible video lectures ( TED Talk: A New Way to Diagnose ASD, Imagining a Better World for Children with Autism, Keynote, Developmental Social Neuroscience) his book, Asperger Syndrome: Assessing and Treating High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders, or one of his many research articles.

Sign up for our summer enrichment programs now for earlybird pricing. Spots fill fast!
Sign up for Learnfully summer enrichment programs now for earlybird pricing. Spots fill fast!