Ms. Cole specializes in the care of children with complex developmental and behavioral challenges. She has particular expertise in autism, intellectual disability, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, cerebral palsy, and the health and behavioral challenges these children experience. She provides comprehensive care, looking at the interaction between health, development, child behavior, family and community factors.
Ms. Cole bases her patient care approach on listening to families. Families know their child best and she recognizes the importance of working toward family goals for their child. Visits are usually low-pressure for the child, as she works hard to engage children in activities and topics of their interest and ability.
Ms. Cole has expertise in the assessment and management of common health problems experienced by children with developmental delays and disabilities. These include low muscle tone, sleep and feeding problems, constipation and GI problems, seizures and neurologic problems, and behavioral challenges. She understands that treatment of health conditions can result in improved behavior, quality of life, and reduced family stress. She works with families to find treatments that work for the child and family.
Ms. Cole has a great deal of experience in helping families who are considering use of medication to treat challenging behavior. She helps families to clearly identify goals for treatment and maximize non-medicine treatments. She helps families think about their own values and preferences, and engages families in shared decision making. She was a lead author on two toolkits published by the Autism Treatment Network supporting safe and effective use of medicine in children with autism and other developmental disabilities. "Should My Child Take Medicine for Behavior: A Decision Aid for Parents of Children with Autism," and "Safe And Effective Use of Medicines for Challenging Behavior: a Toolkit for Families."
In addition to patient care, Ms. Cole serves as the Director of Kirch Developmental Services Center, co-leads University of Rochester's Autism Treatment Network, teaches in the School of Nursing, and lectures and consults to other institutions on Quality Improvement, and Shared Decision Making.
Ms. Cole conducts research on Autism Spectrum Disorders, psychopharmacology, and Shared Decision Making. She is co-PI of the University of Rochester's Autism Treatment Network grant and Autism Intervention Network- Physical Health Grants.
Ms. Cole has research interests in the physical and mental health of children with developmental disabilities. She serves as Co-PI of the Rochester site of the Autism Speaks - Autism Treatment Network, which is a clinical registry of youth with ASD, and looks at impact of standardization of diagnosis and medical care on outcomes. She also serves as Co-PI of the Rochester site of the Autism Intervention Research in Physical Health (AIR-P), a MCHB funded network that utilizes quality improvement and systems change mechanisms to affect physical health outcomes of youth with ASD. She has previously been involved in research on diet and nutrition in youth with ASD.
In addition, she has conducted research in how parents make treatment decision for their child with autism spectrum disorder, and on the use of decision aids when considering behavioral medication.