Explore This Center

Overview

The Lurie Center for Autism is an integrated and multidisciplinary clinical, research, training and advocacy program dedicated to treating individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disorders. Our mission is to treat individuals and support their families across the lifespan. Our Lexington location is the primary clinical care and clinical research site. The Lurie Center for Autism is born out of a philosophy that people with developmental disabilities deserve to be viewed as individuals, each with personal patterns of talents and challenges. We strongly believe that each individual deserves the opportunity for access to the quantity and quality of services needed to reach his or her full potential, regardless of economic, social or ethnic background.

The Lurie Center clinical model combines evaluation and treatment by physicians, psychologists, and nurse practitioners in collaboration with other professionals involved in the individual’s care, including educational consultants, behavioral consultants, and our on-site Spaulding partners. Our unique approach is applied not only to diagnosis but also to identifying the most appropriate interventions and therapies for each patient’s special needs. The multidisciplinary model further offers the opportunity for the care team to more effectively communicate and learn from each other to improve complex clinical care.

We specialize in caring for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders with complex profiles who may also have accompanying conditions such as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, sleep problems, gastrointestinal conditions, and many other physical or cognitive concerns. Our physicians evaluate patients and develop a comprehensive plan for each patient which can be shared with the caregiver, referring physician, school and/or community program. Care is taken to help the family locate appropriate resources.

Individuals seeking evaluation or services for the following conditions are frequently referred to the Lurie Center:

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), (including Asperger’s disorder, pervasive developmental disorders-not otherwise specified [PDD-NOS], and autistic disorder)
  • Developmental delays
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Angelman syndrome
  • Down syndrome
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Phelan McDermid syndrome
  • Rett’s disorder
  • Smith-Magenis syndrome
  • Tuberous sclerosis
  • Williams syndrome
  • Other neurological conditions

Collaborative Partners Based in our Lexington Location Include:

Evaluation & Services

For Children and Adolescents

For Adults

Patient Resources

View the full collection of patient resources from the Lurie Center for Autism at MGfC and Mass General.

Meet the Team

Lurie Center for Autism Director

Lurie Center for Autism Medical Director

Lurie Center for Autism Clinical Director, Non-Physician Services

Lurie Center for Autism Scientific Director

Our Providers and Specialists

Our Providers

Primary Care Services

Nurse Practitioner
Nurses

Family Support Clinicians

Senior Behavioral Consultant

Education Specialist

MGH Patient Navigator for Autism

Our on-site Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Speech-Language Therapy Services are provided by rehabilitation specialists from the Spaulding Outpatient Center for Children Lexington.

Patient Resources

View the full collection of patient resources from the Lurie Center for Autism

Workshops and Events

Coffee Convo Series | View PDF 

Our commitment is to provide ongoing evidence-based learning and training opportunities for families and professionals. One of the ways we do this is with our popular Coffee Convo series, which runs monthly from September to August. All 2021-2022 presentations will be conducted virtually this season, Wednesdays from 6:30pm - 7:30pm. See below for upcoming event details.

Wednesday, September 22

"The Impact of Chronic Caregiving Stress - Information and Strategies for Parents and Caregivers"
Presenter: Sylvia Fogel, MD

Wednesday, October 20
"Empowering Patients and Families in ASD Research"
Presenter: Jacob Hooker, PhD

Wednesday, November 17
"Helpful Hints for Traveling with an Autistic Child"
Presenters: Gillian Erhabor, PhD and Yamini Howe, MD

Wednesday, December 8
"AAC Best Practices- Providing Communication Opportunities"
Presenter: Nicole Williams, M.S. CCC-SLP

Wednesday, January 26
"Parenting a Neurodiverse Gender Fluid Child - A Family’s Personal Journey"
Presenters: Elise Wulff, MEd and Shira Cohen

Wednesday, February 16
"The Truth About ABA - It’s Complicated!"
Presenters: Nicole Simon, EdM, LABA, BCBA and Kirstin Birtwell, PhD

Wednesday, March 23
"Research Innovations"
Presenter: Jacob Hooker, PhD

Wednesday, April 27
"Catatonia - From Diagnosis to Treatment Options and Prognosis"
Presenter: Chris McDougle, MD

Wednesday, May 18
"Dating on the Spectrum"
Presenters: Brett Mulder, PsyD and Alyssa Travers, PhD

Wednesday, June 15
"Creating Your Roadmap for the Transition to Adulthood"
Presenters: Renee Green, PhD and Julie O’Brien, LMHC

Wednesday, July 20
"The Important Role of Grandparents for Families with ASD"
Presenter: Scott McLeod, PhD

Wednesday, August 17
"ASD and Restricted Diets - Helping Your Child Stay Healthy"
Presenters: Dominica Nichols, PhD, RD, LDN and Sarah Kadzielski, MD

Monthly Caregiver Workshops | View PDF

Our Caregiver Workshops are open to the public and presented virtually.  If you have an internet connection, you will be able to participate.  Please call 781-860-1700 if you have questions or would like to reserve your virtual spot.

NEWLY DIAGNOSED - Monthly, 1st & 3rd Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00 pm, Free -
Please Note: This workshop is not currently running.  Scheduling will resume in the summer.
Receiving a new diagnosis can be a life changing experience for caregivers. This interactive workshop is geared toward caregivers of young children. It provides support and general education about autism spectrum disorder, the treatments available, and community services available to families.

BEHAVIOR BASICS - Monthly, 4th Tuesday, 11:30-1:00 pm, $50/Family
Knowing how to help your child stay in control can be hard. This interactive workshop helps caregivers understand the basic principles of behavior in order to better manage challenging behaviors at home. Discussion will focus on evidence-based applied behavior analysis (ABA) and applying this methodology to daily life.

TRANSITIONS - Monthly, 1st Tuesday, 5:00-6:00 pm, $35/Family
This workshop provides a thorough overview and discussion about transition to adult planning. Transitions is specifically designed for parents or caregivers of an adolescent who has autism spectrum disorder or a related developmental disability who would like to learn about important information, such as timelines, steps/tasks, services and resources.

GUARDIANSHIP 101 - Monthly, 1st & 3rd Thursdays, 1:00-2:00 pm, $35/Family
There is much to learn about decision-making options and protections for your child when approaching young adulthood/turning 18. The concept and process of guardianship of an adult can be daunting. This workshop offers information about alternative protections, what guardianship is, the different types and paths to guardianship, as well as how to prepare for guardianship. Participants will be provided with resource materials and referrals to legal experts.

GUARDIANSHIP 102 - Monthly, 2nd & 4th Thursdays, 11:00-1:00 pm, $75/Family
Completing the paperwork required by the court for guardianship of an adult can be overwhelming and time consuming. This workshop offers a group tutorial for family members and caregivers to review the required documentation. Discussion will include the process of filing and giving notice as well as what to expect when appearing at a court hearing. Participants will be provided with referrals to legal experts. This workshop can be provided as a private family coaching session by appointment at a cost of $150 per family.

GUARDIANSHIP 103 - Monthly, 4th Wednesday, 2:00-3:00 pm, $35/Family
Once you have successfully completed your guardianship appointment, one of the important duties for legal guardians in Massachusetts is reporting to the probate court. The initial Guardian Care Plan/Report is required within 60 days of the appointment, and then annually on the anniversary of the guardianship appointment. This workshop is a hands–on group tutorial to help family members and caregivers prepare the Guardian Care Plan/Report. (MPC 821)

GUARDIANSHIP 104 - Monthly, 2nd Wednesday, 2:00-3:30 pm, $50/Family
The process of pursuing a Rogers Guardianship adds extra paperwork and tasks to family members and caregivers who are already stressed and overwhelmed. This workshop provides an overview of the Rogers Guardianship responsibilities, including what is required by the court. This workshop is not intended to provide legal advice, simply an overview of the Rogers Guardianship process.

Parent Group Trainings | View PDF

The Lurie Center for Autism is offering a unique group training for parents of Lurie Center patients. Led by Jill Pineda, PhD, parents will learn desensitization techniques, a gradual approach used to reduce anxiety. Sessions will include information about desensitization for shots/medical procedures, behavioral strategies parents can utilize at home to prepare for a shot, and helpful visual supports. These strategies can be useful for any age or profile, but may be especially beneficial for children who have difficulty tolerating procedures or shots. Registration is by referral only.  Please call 781-860-1700 for more information.

News

See below for important news articles and published material.

Congratulations to Chris McDougle, Robyn Thom, Caitlin Ravichandran, Michelle Palumbo, Chris Keary, and Jennifer Mullett for their new article published online in Neuropsychopharmacology: A randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial of mirtazapine for anxiety in children and adolescents with ASD, March 2022

Congratulations to Lurie Center researchers Robyn Thom, Caitlin Ravichandran, Jennifer Mullett, and Christopher McDougle for their article Repetitive Thoughts and Repetitive Behaviors in Williams Syndrome recently published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, February 2022.

Congratulations to Chris Keary, Ron Thibert, and Nicole Simon for their newly published article, A multidisciplinary approach and consensus statement to establish standards of care for Angelman syndrome, in Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine, February 2022.

"Considerations for the identification of autism spectrum disorder in children with vision or hearing impairment: A critical review of the literature and recommendations for practice", The Clinical Neuropsychologist, December 2021
Natasha N. Ludwig, Dasal Tenzin Jashar, Kelly Sheperd, Jill L. Pineda, Dani Previ, Jennifer Reesman, Calliope Holingue and Gwendolyn J. Gerner

Congratulations to Evan Bordt, PhD, of the MGH Lurie Center for Autism, for recently being awarded a grant from the Autism Research Institute (ARI).
The ARI supports research on the underlying causes of and treatments for autism spectrum disorder.

Congratulations to Robyn Thom, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist at the MGH Lurie Center for Autism, for being awarded a Jerome Lejeune Foundation grant.
The Jerome Lejeune Foundation supports research on childhood genetic disorders associated with intellectual disability. Thom’s study will assess the pharmacologic treatment of depression in adults with Down syndrome.

Congratulations to Marcy Kingsbury for her new article published in TISSUE BARRIERS: The Zonulin-transgenic mouse displays behavioral alterations ameliorated via depletion of the gut microbiota, November 2021

Primary Care Services Now Offered at the Lurie Center - James Bath, MD Special Announcement , November 2021

New Scientific Director Aims to Broaden Autism Research - Mass General Giving, November, 2021


Congratulations to Robyn Thom, Chris Keary, and Chris McDougle for their new article:  "Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder in Williams Syndrome: Case Series and Review of Relevant Literature" in the Journal of the Academy of Consultation-liaison Psychiatry.

"Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors for the Treatment of Depression in Adults with Down Syndrome:  A Preliminary Retrospective Chart Review Study", brain sciences, September 2021
Robyn Thom, MD, Michelle Palumbo, MD, Chris McDougle, MD, and Caitlin Ravichandran, MD

Congratulations to Robyn Thom, MD and Christopher McDougle, MD for two new publications: "Evaluation and Treatment of New-Onset Psychotic Symptoms in a Patient with ASD and Multiple Autoimmune Disorders", and "Challenges and Strategies to Mitigate Problematic Social Media Use in Psychiatric Disorders".

Congratulations to Robyn Thom, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist at the MGH Lurie Center for Autism, for receiving an Early Investigator Award from the Williams Syndrome Association.
This award provides support for early investigators performing research aimed at improving the health and well-being across the lifespan of individuals with Williams syndrome.

Congratulations to Robyn Thom, MD, child and adolescent psychiatrist at the MGH Lurie Center for Autism, for receiving the Louis V. Gerstner III Research Scholar Award from the MGH Department of Psychiatry.
This competitive grant award is geared to newly or recently trained MDs or PhDs who seek to pursue careers as clinician-researchers or researchers in the areas of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and/or ADHD plus related disorders. 

"Buspirone for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder in Down syndrome: Three cases"
Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, May 2021
Yamini Howe, Robyn Thom, Chris McDougle and Michelle Palumbo

Congratulations to Emily Anderberg for the publication of Co‑occurring Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder: Cognitive, Adaptive, and Behavioral Characteristics in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, April 2021

Congratulations to Marcy Kingsbury, PhD, for being one of eight junior faculty recipients of the 2021 Claflin Distinguished Scholar Awards! These awards support the career advancement and research productivity of women in science at MGH.

"
Development of an adapted Clinical Global Impression scale for use in Angelman syndrome", January 4, 2021, Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Christopher Keary, MD, Alexander Kolevzon, Pamela Ventola, Gali Heimer, Jeffrey L Neul, Mathews Adera, Judith Jaeger

"Providing Inpatient Medical Care to Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder"
, Hospital Pediatrics, September 2020

Robyn P. Thom, Melissa M. Hazen, Christopher J. McDougle and Eric P. Hazen

"Predicting Parent Reactions at Diagnostic Disclosure Sessions for Autism", Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, November 23, 2020
Emily Anderberg, Mikle South

"New-Onset Abnormal Vocalizations in an Adult Woman With Down Syndrome, Psychosomatics" November/December 2020

Michelle L. Palumbo, M.D., James O. Robbins, B.A., Michelle Chaney, M.D.,Christopher Keary, M.D., Allison Schwartz, M.D., Brian G. Skotko, M.D., M.P.P, Christopher J. McDougle, M.D.

"How Telemedicine is Helping Patients with Autism"
, November 6, 2020, NBC Boston

"Genome, Environment, Microbiome and Metabolome in Autism (GEMMA) Study Design: Biomarkers Identification for Precision Treatment and Primary Prevention of Autism Spectrum Disorders by an Integrated Multi-Omics Systems Biology Approach", Brain Sciences, October 16, 2020

"Coronavirus tests can be scary for kids. Here's how to make them easier"
, July 17, 2020, The New York Times

"Assessment of Speech and Fine Motor Coordination in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder", July 10, 2020, IEEE Xplore
Lisa Nowinski, Hannah Saro, Maria Mody, and Christopher McDougle

"Characterization of sleep habits and medication outcomes for sleep disturbance in children and adults with Angelman syndrome", June, 2020, American Journal of Medical Genetics
Joseph A. Pereira, Caitlin T. Ravichandran, Jennifer Mullett, Christopher J. McDougle and Christopher J. Keary

"Helping people with autism spectrum disorder manage masks and COVID-19 tests", June 10, 2020, Harvard Health Blog
Robyn Thom, MD, and Karen Turner, OTR/L

"Agitation in Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder Admitted to Inpatient Medical Units", May 26, 2020, Journal of Pediatrics
Eric P. Hazen, MD, Caitlin Ravichandran, PhD, Amrita Rao Hureau, MPH, Julia O’Rourke, PhD, Elizabeth Madva, MD, Christopher J. McDougle, MD

"How can you support your teenager with autism spectrum disorder if they are depressed?"
, April 23, 2020, Harvard Health Blog

"Psychiatric Assessment of Social Impairment Across the Lifespan", March 25, 2020, Harvard Review of Psychiatry
Robyn P. Thom, MD, Christopher J. Keary, MD, Gabriel Kramer, Lisa A. Nowinski PhD, and  Christopher J. McDougle, MD

"Clues to Autism's Origins"
, February 25, 2020, Molecular Psychiatry
A neuroimaging study by Harvard Medical School researchers based at Massachusetts General Hospital has shown that the brains of young men with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have low levels of a protein that appears to play a role in inflammation and metabolism.

"Buspirone for the Treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Williams Syndrome: A Case Series", February 2020, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Robyn P. Thom, MD, Christopher J. Keary, MD, Jessica L. Waxler, Barbara R. Pober and Christopher J. McDougle, MD

"Assessment of Walking Routes as a Possible Approach for Promoting Physical Activity in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Brief Report", July, 2019, Developmental Neurorehabilitation
Nicolas M. Oreskovic, Ann M. Neumeyer, Michael P. Duggan & Karen A.Kuhlthau

"Beyond the brain: A multi-system inflammatory subtype of autism spectrum disorder", May 14, 2019, Psychopharmacology
Robyn P. Thom, Christopher J. Keary, Michelle L. Palumbo, Caitlin T. Ravichandran, Jennifer E. Mullett, Eric P. Hazen, Ann M. Neumeyer, and Christopher J. McDougle

"Let's Raise Awareness About Autism"
video series, April, 2019, MGH Lurie Center

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, the Lurie Center for Autism produced an educational video series. These videos, featuring our own clinicians and experts, were created to raise awareness of common challenges and symptoms experienced by autistic people.

"Why We Need a Better Awareness of How Autism Spectrum Disorder Differs in Women", 4/23/19, Mass General Research Institute Blog post
New research from the Lurie Center for Autism at Massachusetts General Hospital discusses increasing awareness of gender-specific differences in ASD to improve early diagnosis rates and identify better treatment strategies for female patients. The recent article published in Current Psychiatry Reports, is summarized and discussed in this blog post.

Encyclopedias
SAGE Encyclopedias

Lurie Center & MGH Aspire staff published in new SAGE Encyclopedias - 3/16/2018, MGH Lurie Center & MGH Aspire
We are delighted to announced that numerous staff members of the Lurie Center and MGH Aspire have authored chapters of the 2018 SAGE Encyclopedia of Intellectual and Developmental Disorders. See the full list of authors.

Research

The mission of the Lurie Center for Autism is to advance knowledge of the causes of and treatments for autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disorders and rapidly translate these discoveries into exceptional clinical care over a lifetime.

The Lurie Center for Autism is involved in collaborations with basic science researchers from around the globe to discover the fundamental causes of autism. At the Lurie Center, our Lexington based clinic that provides clinical care and clinical research, we offer children and adults with autism spectrum disorder an opportunity to participate in clinical research that provides unprecedented access to new and promising treatment options.

At the Lurie Center, we integrate research into our clinical practice. We partner with individuals and families to incorporate groundbreaking research into the heart of our clinical practice. With participation in research, our study volunteers join an important partnership with the research community and contribute to increasing knowledge of autism and related disorders.

Current Lurie Center for Autism studies for Children:

Current Lurie Center for Autism studies for Adults:

To learn more about currently available research opportunities at the Lurie Center, please contact our research office at LurieCenterResearch@partners.org or call us at 781-860-1711.

For more information about clinical research participation, visit the following links:

Videos

Provider/Specialist Videos

General ASD Information Videos

Recently Published Articles - Videos

  • Christopher McDougle, MD, Director of the Lurie Center for Autism, summarizes the recent article "Beyond the brain: A multi-system inflammatory subtype of autism spectrum disorder" published in Psychopharmacology.
  • Christopher McDougle, MD, Director of the Lurie Center for Autism, summarizes the recently published article "Accuracy of self-reported history of autoimmune disease: A pilot study" in the publication Plos One.

Careers

The Lurie Center for Autism is currently seeking applicants for the following positions: 

Summer 2022 Clinical Research Internships for Undergraduate Students - Application period is closed for 2022
Faculty Developmental Behavioral or Neurodevelopmental Pediatrician  
Research Faculty - Instructor / Assistant Professor in the field of autism or a related research area
Masters Level Summer Group Counselors for Autistic Children/Teens - Aspire Program
Clinic Administrative Coordinator - Williams Syndrome
Clinical Psychologist - Lurie Center for Autism





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