September 30, 2014

Sarah Blumberg, TRIAD Community Outreach team receive Autism Tennessee awards

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD) Community Outreach team members were recently honored for their accomplishments with the 2014 Coston Education Organization Award at Autism Tennessee's 2014 Fall Conference.

In addition, one of TRIAD's team members, Elementary/Middle School Program Coordinator Sarah Blumberg, Ed.D., was awarded the 2014 Coston Education Individual Award.

This was the first time both an individual and organization have received awards in the same year. Recipients of the Organization Award included:

• Pablo Juarez, M.Ed., associate director; assistant in Pediatrics and Psychiatry.

• Lauren Weaver, M.S., organizational outreach coordinator; behavioral/educational consultant; assistant in Pediatrics.

• Whitney Loring, Psy.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics, Division of Developmental Medicine; program coordinator, Families First.

• Maria Lemler, educational consultant.

• Sarah Blumberg, Ed.D., Elementary/Middle School Program Coordinator, Behavioral/Educational Consultant; assistant in Pediatrics.

• LaTamara Garrett, M.Ed., Early Childhood Program Coordinator, educational consultant; assistant in Pediatrics.

• John Staubitz, M.Ed., behavior consultation coordinator and consultant; assistant in Pediatrics.

• Alacia Stainbrook, Ph.D., Early Intervention Program Coordinator; behavioral/educational consultant; assistant in Pediatrics.

• Mary Morton, M.Ed., Educational and Behavioral Consultant, Families First; assistant in Pediatrics.

The Community Outreach team was nominated for the Coston Award by TRIAD Director Zachary Warren, Ph.D. The overall goal of TRIAD's Community Engagement Initiative is to create understanding and awareness of autism across the community by educating families and developing collaborative partnerships with local education and arts programs.

Community interaction comes in the form of monthly Families First workshops and community partner training through the Organizational Engagement Program. Last year, more than 900 people attended 11 different modified events hosted by these community partners. Families were enriched by programs offered by Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, the Country Music Hall of Fame, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville Children's Theatre, Nashville Opera, Nashville Public Library, Nashville Zoo, Tennessee Performing Arts Center and the YMCA of Middle Tennessee.

"Over the past year, this amazing and dynamic group has made an amazing effort to help ensure that individuals with autism and their families are integrated and celebrated within the community arts organizations that many of us consider the jewels of our Nashville community," said Warren. "This sort of advocacy and leadership makes Nashville a better place for everyone, including individuals with autism."

Blumberg was nominated for the individual Coston Education Award by Misty Vetter. Blumberg is a board-certified behavior analyst who serves as TRIAD's School-Age Program Coordinator. She visits schools across the state and provides autism-centered professional development training to administrators, teachers and paraeducators. Her many responsibilities include providing early intervention services to young children with autism, collaborating on the Early Childhood Project, community engagement activities with the TRIAD Community Outreach team and presenting training events for medical staff in the Vanderbilt community.

According to Vetter, "Sarah has impacted hundreds of kids and families across Middle Tennessee. Personally, in one summer, I saw her turn around a young man's life through the use of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). That young man has grown into a functional young adult. There are hundreds of examples just like this. Though she has no personal connection, Sarah has dedicated her career to autism. She will continue to touch the lives of those with autism and their families for years to come."