Friday Apr 21, 2017

"The Science of Autism"

Dr. Raphael Bernier

Clinical Director / Associate Professor Seattle Children's Autism Center / Dept. of Psychiatry, UW

Introduced by: Adam Mihlstin

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We are so fortunate to have Seattle Children’s Autism Center in our back yard.  Dr. Raphael Bernier, the Clinical Director of the Seattle Children’s Autism Center, was the perfect start to our All In For Autism Run this weekend, Sunday April 23rd.

Dr. Bernier explained that there is not a genetic test for autism.  The only detection is social challenges and restrictive and repetitive behaviors.

A challenge is figuring out how to treat autism and what category of autism the patient was classified.

In the mid 90’s, Dr. Bernier was working with children with a variety of challenges.  He read in the newspaper an opportunity for a position working with autistic children.   At the time he did not understand what autism was but was interested in the job, interviewed and was awarded the position.

He was lucky to work with a physiologist who was ahead of her time.  Together they conducted testing and studies in the autistic filed…..then he got married, joined the Peace Core.

After returning to the States, Dr. Bernier got right back into the autistic field studies.  This time the studies exposed a small common genetic mutation in autistic children with no relation to the mother or father.  These genes were found to impact the brain function.  With this finding, funding supported further analysis to uncover 800 genes affected.

After years of analysis one gene was consistently affected, a commonality with  26 children.   This was powerful because the finding showed a distinction for specific targeting.

Where is autism now?  50% of children with autism can be diagnosed, gene functionality can be enabled with medication and behavior based treatments are available that are very effective.

Seattle is second to the autism center in Atlanta, GA.

A side note:  The All In For Autism Run is Sunday, April 23rd.  After the run, one or our sponsors, 520 Bar and Grill, will be providing mimosas and bloody marys for race volunteers.


About the Speaker

Dr. Bernier is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Washington, the Clinical Director of the Seattle Children’s Autism Center, the Associate Director of the Center on Human Development and Disability and a licensed clinical psychologist. He received his PhD at UW, his clinical training at UCLA, and also holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Tufts University. As the author of over 100 scientific articles and chapters and the book Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Reference Handbook, the Principal Investigator of several NIH and privately funded studies focused on the etiology and neuroscience of Autism Spectrum Disorders, and an active clinician, Dr. Bernier is at the intersection of science and practice of ASD.
Looking forward to it.