Psychologist Focuses Energy on Helping Autistic Children Excel

October 03, 2000

Tristram Smith, Ph.D., sees the scenario unfold every week, and he's bound and determined to change it.

Concerned parents say their little boy doesn't talk much, and isn't interested in making friends. And the child makes little use of his toys, choosing instead to spend his time watching water run in the kitchen sink.

Fortunately, kids have these kinds of symptoms can be referred to Children's Hospital at Strong. Each year, staff members examine more than 100 youngsters who display some of the signs and symptoms associated with autism.

Once diagnosed with autism, these children see a health care professional such as Smith, who works in the hospital's Autism Spectrum Disorders Program, which provides consultations to families and schools about treatment for autistic children.

"There's something tantalizing about children who often give the appearance of having great potential, but also have significant difficulties in common, everyday situations," says Smith, who joined the hospital's staff this month. "These kids show a spark, and I'm committed to helping them."

A graduate of UCLA, Smith most recently worked at Washington State University. At Children's Hospital at Strong, he will divide his time equally between treating children and doing important research. The U.S. Surgeon General and the state Department of Health have cited his past research.

"My goal is to make state-of-the-art interventions for autism more widely available in the community, and continue to study how to improve them," he says.

Smith lives in Brighton with his wife, Jennifer Katz, Ph.D., and their child. For more information about the Autism Spectrum Disorders Program at Children's Hospital at Strong, call Sharon Nagel at 275-6605.

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