Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

March 31, 2009

Lindaman Chair to Give April 15 Lecture on Autism Treatment

The number of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) this year will exceed those diagnosed with AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined, and now one out of every 150 children is affected it, says Betty Fry Williams, Ph.D., Lindaman Chair and professor and coordinator of special education at Whitworth University. To educate the public about treatment options for this increasingly common disorder, Williams will present the sixth annual Lindaman Lecture, "What Works in Treating Autism: Examining the Evidence," at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 15, in the Robinson Teaching Theatre in Weyerhaeuser Hall at Whitworth.  Admission is free.  For more information, please call (509) 777-4263.

ASD is a serious and complex neurological disorder that impedes a person's ability to communicate and relate socially to others, Williams says. Symptoms include impaired communication, reduced social interaction, and preoccupation with limited items or topics. More than 500 treatment options exist, ranging from special diets to swimming with dolphins, which creates difficult decisions for parents of children with autism.

Williams' lecture will present supporting evidence for various treatments separated into five categories: nutritional, rational, sensory/neural, pharmacological/medical and educational/behavioral. The lecture is intended for parents of children with autism, special education teachers, counselors, psychologists, physicians, other professionals interested in ASD, and for Whitworth students preparing to enter these fields. 

"Hopefully, participants will leave with better information and confidence for making decisions regarding appropriate treatments for individuals with ASD," Williams says.

Williams' 2008 Lindaman Lecture, "Separating Science from Science Fiction: Research on the Cause of Autism," brought in an audience of more than 200 school teachers, parents of autistic children, and others interested in learning more about autism. A recording of that lecture can be downloaded at www.whitworth.edu/podcast.   

Williams and her husband, Randy Lee Williams, Ph.D., are authors of Effective Programs for the Treatment of Autism: Applied Behavior Analysis, due out in 2010.  The goal of the book is to inform parents and special education teachers about applied behavior analysis, which is recognized as the most effective approach for the treatment of deficits caused by ASD.

Williams' Lindaman Chair appointment allows her to broaden her research in early intervention and autism. Under Williams' leadership, Whitworth is responding to the "Age of Autism" in a number of innovative ways, including establishing a website devoted to evaluating autism research, and collaborating with regional universities and the Spokane Guilds' School to expand research and training in early intervention. This effort is directed toward the development of a center for interdisciplinary service, research and training of personnel serving children from birth to age three.

Williams, who is in her 11th year at Whitworth, began her work in special education 40 years ago and has published and presented extensively in this area. She is the co-author of Very Young Children with Special Needs, 3rd. Ed. (Howard, Williams, & Lepper, 2004), a text for professionals and families working with children with disabilities from birth to age six. She also is editor of the text Directions in Early Intervention and Assessment (Williams, 2003), which is the result of a series of regional interdisciplinary conferences sponsored by the Spokane Guilds' School, with which she works closely.

Williams was previously a professor of education at Gonzaga University and helped establish the university's early childhood special-education training program and preschool. She was among the first professionals to train Head Start teachers to integrate children with disabilities, well before the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was established; she also coordinated a regional Resource Access Project, out of the University of Kansas Medical Center, which served young children with disabilities in the Midwest. She received the Excellence in Teacher Preparation Award by the Washington State Board of Education in 2004. Williams initiated the Infant Training Component (INTRAC) in Kalamazoo, Mich., for infants and toddlers with multiple disabilities and their parents; the program is still in operation after 39 years. 

The annual Lindaman Lecture is held each spring and features Whitworth's appointed Edward B. Lindaman Chair. The position is an endowed, rotating chair for senior Whitworth faculty who are engaged in significant regional and national academic initiatives and who contribute to public dialogue concerning important social issues. Williams' four-year appointment began in fall 2007.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,600 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Betty Fry Williams, Edward B. Lindaman Chair and professor of education, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4688 or bwilliams@whitworth.edu.

Julie Shanholtzer, program assistant, Speakers and Artists Series and psychology department, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4263 or jshanholtzer@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.

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