May 23, 2007
For immediate release
Broad Foundation Gift to Establish Asperger Research Center at UC Santa Barbara
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The Gevirtz Graduate School of Education’s Koegel Autism Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara announced today it has received a $940,000 gift from The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation to establish the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Center for Asperger Research.
The new center will be the first research and training facility in the United States devoted to developing treatments and ultimately finding a cure for individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome, a prevalent form of high functioning autism characterized by difficulties with social communication.
Led by international autism authorities Drs. Robert and Lynn Koegel, the Broad Center will develop and refine the Koegels’ research-based model for intervention and support for children and adults with Asperger’s Syndrome.
“Edye and I are pleased to create a center that will support the Koegels’ innovative research into a disorder that presents a challenge for many families around the country who live with Asperger’s Syndrome,” said Eli Broad, founder of The Broad Foundation. “We are encouraged by the work underway at UCSB, and we look forward to advancing the research and knowledge that will someday lead to a cure of this disorder, and in the interim, will enable those affected to lead more productive lives.”
Examples of specific projects within the new Center include:
“To date, most of the research around the world in the area of Asperger Disorder has focused on describing the symptoms and lack of abilities of such individuals,” said Dr. Robert Koegel. “In contrast, the purpose of this new Eli and Edythe L. Broad Center is to capitalize on the individuals’ strengths, to eliminate their debilitating symptoms, and to conduct interventions that will allow such people to lead happy lives and to be productive members of society.”
“We are deeply appreciative of Eli and Edythe Broad’s vision and commitment to establish this important new program within our Koegel Autism Center at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education,” said UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “Their generosity will have a direct impact on the quality of life for individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome, as we work together to advance the frontiers of knowledge in this area and develop new and effective methods for teaching, intervention, and support.”
About Asperger’s Disorder
It is estimated that one in every 500 children has Asperger’s Disorder or High Functioning Autism. Children with this type of autism demonstrate difficulties with social communication. In spite of having very high levels of intelligence and exceptional abilities in narrow areas (usually music, m ath or art), they typically have difficulties with eye contact, peer relationships, sharing emotions with others, and are often inflexible in their routines or patterns of behaviors. At the same time, because children with Asperger’s generally do not have delays in language development or significant clinical delays in cognitive development and self-help skills, they are often misdiagnosed or untreated. They can end up isolated as adults, and may develop severe depression.
Without specialized interventions the social difficulties of children with Asperger’s Disorder often result in problems in adulthood such as depression, few or no friends, lack of recreational activities, and difficulties with higher education and employment. This is ironic because the individuals’ intellectual abilities are often extremely high, suggesting they have the potential to become some of the most productive members of society if their potential could be “unlocked.”
About the Koegel Autism Center
The Koegel Autism Research and Training Center, overseen by Drs. Robert and Lynn Koegel, is dedicated to improving the lives and prognoses of children with autism, as well as the lives of their families. It has been recognized by the National Academy of Sciences – and ranked among the country’s top 10 such facilities – for its innovative research and teaching methods in a variety of areas, including parent education, language development, and teacher education. It offers a state-of-the-art behavioral approach to autistic children. The Koegel Autism Center is part of The Gevirtz School at UC Santa Barbara.
About The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is a national venture philanthropy established by businessman and philanthropist Eli Broad to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, scientific and medical research, and the arts. Broad founded two Fortune 500 companies, SunAmerica Inc. and KB Home. The Broad Foundation’s Internet address is www.broadfoundation.org.
[Robert and Lynn Koegel are available for interviews; contact George Yatchisin at 805 893 5789]
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