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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Little Friends to work with Northwestern University


For several years now, Little Friends has been having discussions with members of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine on how we could collaborate our clinical work with the research being done in the field of autism. Our dream was to create a robust resource of clinical and research services for families to access in the Midwest. Admittedly, it has taken time to get started, with even more work lying ahead.

However, I am pleased to share that we are formally getting started by taking the steps necessary to be able to work with the Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and their School of Communication by developing a formal subject registry necessary to connect families with research opportunities. To facilitate our “dream,” we needed to create a formal system that allows for the safe and structured interchange of information. This required a financial investment and I’m pleased to share that the Little Friends Board of Directors approved the investment and work has begun on the system development. The completion of the initial work is estimated to be by the end of calendar year 2022.

Leading the initiative from Northwestern University will be Dr. Molly Losh, from the School of Communication. Dr. Losh is a highly accomplished specialist who focuses on the nature and basis of language impairment in autism. Dr. Losh is also one of two Northwestern professors and scholars on our Board. The other is Dr. Peter Penzes, whose area of expertise involves autism and genetic research. Both individuals at some point will be directly involved with our research initiative.

As we look toward the future, our hope is that by creating this infrastructure and having our organizations work together, families will be able to develop a deeper understanding of the cognitive and biological mechanisms underlying with autism and related neurodevelopmental conditions. While admittedly lofty as a goal, we know that research has a role in helping families understand autism.

We know questions will arise where a need to better understand autism can affect a family’s future. We also know that having the ability to participate in studies admittedly is not for everyone. However, for those individuals who want to dig deeper into their understanding of autism, having access to a resource of this caliber will be beneficial.

We’re not only excited about the opportunity to move forward but anxious to begin to offer connection with these experts in the field of autism. We know from conversations with Dr. Losh that we will have more to share in the second half of 2022 once the systems needed are operational.

Mike Briggs
Mike Briggshttp://littlefriendsinc.org
Mike Briggs is the President and CEO of Little Friends. Little Friends empowers clients with autism and other developmental disabilities to thrive in our community. Their groundbreaking programs and nationally-renowned staff provide lifelong opportunities for growth, so their clients can work, learn, play and experience the joy of life’s everyday moments.