A Message from the Director

During this season of gratitude, I want to express my deep appreciation to each of you who partner with us in a variety of ways to help ensure that those on the spectrum will realize their fullest potential. Our research discoveries continue to play a pivotal role in finding solutions to address healthcare disparities, increase access to screening and diagnosis, and create innovative ways to expand the reach of evidence-based interventions. Most recently a multicenter study led by center psychiatrist and investigator Dr. Linmarie Sikich provided clarity around oxytocin, which had previously shown mixed outcomes in smaller, less robust studies.

We know that success comes only if we empower families, self-advocates, and community stakeholders to share their experiences with us, to help shape our research study design, goals, and outreach efforts. As a part of that effort, we established our Duke Autism Center of Excellence (ACE) Community Engagement Advisory Board, a stakeholder group who has helped shape our research priorities throughout the year. This board joined our ACE Advisory Committee, a team of autism research experts, self-advocates, and parents who have informed and advised our ACE investigations for several years. We are pleased to welcome autistic parent of neurodiverse children, author, and advocate Morénike Giwa Onaiwu to our ACE Advisory Committee.

This holiday season, we launch our popular annual Holiday Greeting Art Gallery & Contest once again! Please encourage your neurodiverse friends and family to participate, and consider participating yourself. One submission will be selected to illustrate our Duke Center for Autism digital holiday greeting card!
Thank you again for staying connected. With your support, our work will continue to make a meaningful difference in lives of autistic individuals — as well as those who care for and care about them.

Warm wishes for a safe and happy holiday season!
Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D.
Director, Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development
Largest Study of its Kind Finds Oxytocin is Safe but Ineffective 

Oxytocin, a naturally occurring hormone that acts as a chemical messenger in the brain, showed no evidence of helping autistic children improve social skills, according to a large National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded study led by Duke Center for Autism investigator Linmarie Sikich, MD. The long-awaited finding provides clarity for a treatment that has shown mixed outcomes in smaller, less robust studies. The randomized trial followed 290 children and adolescents for six months but found no significant difference in social abilities between the half who got the oxytocin daily and the half who got a placebo. “This work underscores our commitment to rigorous research to support families making critical decisions,” explained Dr. Sikich. “Parents and caregivers deserve strong evidence about the safety and benefit of new treatments before they are offered as solutions.”
Author, Self-advocate & Parent Morénike Giwa Onaiwu Joins Center's ACE Advisory Committee
The Duke Center for Autism is proud to be a National Institutes of Health Autism Center of Excellence (ACE), a designation given to only a handful of U.S. universities. In 2014, the center created the Duke ACE Advisory Committee, whose members include leaders in autism research, self-advocates, and family members. Committee members serve as advisors to ACE investigators, providing insights across the multiple studies that leverage the ACE award. This summer, the center welcomed Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, autistic parent of neurodiverse children, author, and member of the Interagency Advisory Coordinating Committee, to our six-member ACE Advisory Committee. Read more here.
Be a Part of the Duke Center for Autism
2021 Holiday Greeting Art Gallery & Contest
Help us illustrate our holiday greeting card!

All individuals on the autism spectrum and their family members are invited to be a part of our Duke Center for Autism Holiday Greeting Art Gallery & Contest! Submitted artwork will be featured online in our 2021 Duke Center for Autism Holiday Greeting Art Gallery. One individual's work will be selected to illustrate our digital 2021 holiday greeting card!
All ages and talent levels are welcomed!

**Submission deadline is December 15th.**
Questions? Email catherine.jarboe@duke.edu
Center Psychologist Tyler Higgs Named to National Autism Special Interest Group Leadership Team
The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy (ABCT), a national organization committed to improving lives through evidence-based treatments of mental health conditions, has named Duke Center for Autism psychologist Tyler Higgs, PhD, the co-chair elect of its Autism Spectrum and Developmental Disabilities (ASDD) Special Interest Group (SIG). The ASDD SIG unites autism professionals who work to improve the lives of autistic individuals and their families by creating and sharing evidence-based treatments. Dr. Higgs, who is an assistant professor in the Duke University School of Medicine, will serve on the SIG leadership team from 2022-2024. Dr. Higgs is particularly excited to help the SIG expand its efforts to reduce health disparities among autistic people who are BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+. Read more about ABCT here. Follow ABCT (@ABCTNOW) and the ASDD SIG (@ABCTAutism) on Twitter.
Autistic Career Summit Supports Opportunities for Job-seekers and Employers

The 2021 NC Autistic Career Summit, held Sept. 23-24 at NC State University, provided opportunities for job-seekers on the spectrum to meet with employers recruiting for paid internships and degree-related full-time roles. The virtual summit, coordinated by NC State’s University Career Center was supported by many organizations in the autism community, including the Duke Center for Autism and Duke University Career Center, and featured recruiters, self-advocates, and professionals who discussed the hiring process, navigating employment, and internships. Get resources and information from the Summit here
Did you miss our webinar, "The ABCs of Autism Intervention: How Can I Choose What is Best for Our Family?" featuring experts from Duke Center for Autism, UNC TEACCH, and the Autism Society of NC?

Watch the recording in English or Spanish here.
Our Popular Autism Speaker Series Is Back! 
Free, monthly, virtual sessions are open to all

Join us for the Duke Center for Autism 2021-2022 Autism Speaker Series. Our monthly, virtual sessions feature leading investigators, clinicians, and practitioners impacting autism research, interventions, and treatments. Registration in advance required.
Warning Signs of Suicidal Behavior Resource Available

Warning signs of suicidal behavior in the general public do not represent the unique needs of the autism community. UNC TEACCH Autism Program, Augusta University, Coventry University, and the University of Nottingham have created a new evidence-based resource for autistic families, Warning Signs of Suicide for Autistic People. Get this free resource here.
Duke Opens Center for ADHD in Women & Girls

Duke announces the opening its Center for Girls & Women with ADHD, one of the nation’s only programs dedicated specifically to advancing knowledge about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in girls and women. A part of the Duke ADHD Program, its mission is to advance education among patients, families, clinicians, educators, and the public about the unique needs of girls and women with ADHD across the lifespan. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.
For Children with Disabilities, 'Wait and See' Just Won't Work
WHO Webinar Recording Now Available

Duke Center for Autism child and adolescent psychiatrist Lauren Franz, MBChB, MPH, was a panelist on the webinar, "From Surviving to Thriving: Creating Global Equity in Support and Services for Childhood Developmental Disability." The webinar, coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Duke University Global Health Institute, and other international experts, featured global leaders and scientists who stressed the need for doctors, families, policymakers, and researchers to support early diagnosis and intervention for children with developmental disabilities. Watch the recording here.
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