October 17, 2017

Malow, Bingham take part in new Tennessee Council on Autism Spectrum Disorder

Vanderbilt faculty members Beth Malow, M.D., M.S., and Emelyne Bingham have been appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam as Middle Tennessee representatives on the newly created Tennessee Council on Autism Spectrum Disorder, which held its first meeting in Nashville on Oct. 4.

The council, under the oversight of the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD), seeks to establish a comprehensive statewide long-term plan for a system of care for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families. It also has been charged with making recommendations in program development for all levels of autism spectrum disorder services for both children and adults. The council will meet quarterly with their focus on developing a long-term plan.

“With the rates of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder rising, it’s important that we ensure we are focusing on how best to support Tennesseans with autism throughout the lifespan,” DIDD Commissioner Debra Payne said. “The voices on this council will play an important role in shaping policy to improve outcomes for thousands of children and adults.”

The council is made up of persons with autism spectrum disorder and families members appointed by Governor Haslam, along with State agency representatives from the Departments of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Education, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Commerce and Insurance, Human Services, Health, the Division of TennCare, the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilitie and the Commissioner on Children and Youth.

Malow is the Burry Chair in Cognitive Childhood Development and professor of Neurology and Pediatrics. In addition to serving as a parent of children on the autism spectrum, she brings professional expertise in autism research and interventions, including directorship of the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network site at Vanderbilt.

Bingham, senior lecturer in the Teaching of Music, is an accomplished professional who is on the autism spectrum and an advocate for the autism community. Both Malow and Bingham are Vanderbilt Kennedy Center members, and Malow also serves on the Tennessee Autism Summit Team.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in 68 children have an autism spectrum disorder, a sharp increase in prevalence since the turn of the century.

The creation of this council has been long desired by people with autism spectrum disorder and their families as well as advocacy groups. Legislation to establish the council was passed by the Tennessee General Assembly during the 2017 Legislative Session.

The Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities is the State agency responsible for administration and oversight of community-based services for approximately 8,000 people with intellectual disabilities as well as 4,000 people through the Family Support Program.

For information about the Tennessee Council on Autism Spectrum Disorder or the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, call (615) 253-2236.