CSUSB researcher to tackle ongoing debate over causes of autism


The skyrocketing rates of autism and whether immunizations cause the disorder are critical issues Danelle Hodge, associate director of research for the University Center for Developmental Disabilities at Cal State San Bernardino, will address during her talk on Thursday, Dec. 13.

Institute for Child Development and Family RelationsThe free noon lecture will take place at the San Bernardino Feldheym Public Library’s Kellogg Room B.  The library is located at the corner of North E and 6th streets in San Bernardino.  Hodge’s presentation is offered to professionals and non-professionals with an interest in Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in 88 American children falls somewhere on the autism spectrum. The figure represents a ten-fold increase in ASD diagnoses in the past 40 years. The rapid increase, as well as the complexity of the disorder, says Hodge, has led to a flood of information, both accurate and inaccurate. Her talk will address some of the most common debates in ASD research, including why the American Psychiatric Association is changing its diagnostic criteria for autism.

Besides her work with UCDD, Hodge is the coordinator for community outreach at CSUSB’s Institute for Child Development and Family Relations and also an adjunct faculty member at the university.

The researcher uses a bioecological approach to understanding ASD. She has studied the relative roles of genetics and the environment and the impact of a child with ASD on other family members.

Affecting more than 2 million individuals in the U.S., ASD is more common than juvenile diabetes, AIDS and cancer combined.

Autism Spectrum Disorder describes a group of complex brain disorders that includes Autistic Disorder, Rett Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder — not otherwise specified — and Asperger Syndrome. These disorders share in common, to varying degrees, deficits in social functioning, communication impairments and the presence of repetitive behaviors.

The talk by Hodge is presented by the CSUSB Institute for Child Development and Family Relations. Co-sponsors for the event are First 5 of San Bernardino, the Children’s Network, County of San Bernardino, KVCR Public Broadcasting Station, the University Center for Developmental Disabilities and the CSUSB College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

For more information about Hodge’s appearance or the Institute for Child Development, visit the institute’s website or call Betzy Kritzberg at (909) 537-3679.