Philanthropy supports diagnosis and treatment of autism

Department news | January 31, 2023

Autism is diagnosed in 1 in 59 children in the United States and the waitlist for services in our region’s largest autism center is nearly a year long. There are not enough providers to meet our community’s needs.

Generous philanthropic donors created the Ventura Endowed Fellowship for Autism Research to support training and education in the field of autism and ultimately increase clinical capacity for the diagnosis and treatment of autism. Proposals from applicants are evaluated based on the likelihood that the training and educational experience will increase expertise to serve community needs or increase the number of providers focusing on autism in the region.

Congratulations to the four trainees who received funding from the Ventura Autism Fellowship Fund this year. Shawna Harbin, PhD, a SMART Center postdoctoral scholar, and Hannah Benavidez, a Research in Early Autism Detection and Intervention (READi) Lab graduate student, will use the funds to support training on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), a standardized assessment that can help in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders across ages, language skills, cultural backgrounds, and developmental levels. Psychology Postdoctoral Fellows Angela Dahiya-Singh, PhD, and Karís Casagrande, PhD, will use the award to attend the International Society for Autism Research in May 2023 where they will present data on projects related to evidence-based services for families and children with ASD in rural underserved communities and training models to increase capacity in the community for autism services (respectively).

Thank you to Jennifer Gerdts, PhD, Jill Locke, PhD, Fred Shic, PhD, and Sara Jane Webb, PhD, for reviewing applications. A second round of applications will be reviewed March 15, 2023. Contact Dr. Webb ( for application materials. For more information about the Ventura Endowed Fellowship for Autism Research please contact David Chow ( Director for Philanthropy for UW Medicine Advancement.