MUSC lands grant for special needs training

Charleston Regional Business Journal
October 7, 2011

The Medical University of South Carolina won a $2.8 million federal grant to create three centers to train health professionals who work with children with developmental disabilities.

The five-year award will fund the creation of S.C. Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities, a partnership among MUSC, the University of South Carolina and the Greenville Hospital System, according to a news release from MUSC. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the grant.

The program’s goal is to establish a statewide training program to improve the health of infants, children and adolescents with autism and neurodevelopmental disorders. The grant pays for more than 20 teachers from the three partner institutions to provide the training.

“Nationwide, the numbers of children with ASDs (autism spectrum disorders) and other developmental disabilities are on the rise,” said Dr. Michelle Macias, a professor of pediatrics in the MUSC division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics and the principal investigator for the grant. “Estimates show a 57% increase in the prevalence of autism, and the CDC estimates that up to 17% of children have special needs. One of the biggest problems is the dire lack of professionals to evaluate and treat children with disabilities, and that is specifically what the grant is designed to provide — including educational efforts for all health care professionals who care for children and their families.”

In South Carolina, 8.6 per 1,000 children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Boys are 4.5 times more likely to have the disorder than girls, meaning one in 70 boys has the disorder in the state.

Training for the S.C. Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities program can be provided to health professionals in several fields, including pediatrics, psychology, speech pathology, social work, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, pediatric dentistry, psychiatry, neurology, genetics and special education. The program’s activities will also be distributed with online teaching tools.

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