Psychiatry Advances


Advances in Psychiatry

Stephen Kanne, PhD Brings Innovative Approaches to Autism Care at the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB)

CADB exterior building shot
CADB interior entrance shot
CADB interior shot
CADB interior shot

At NewYork-Presbyterian Center for Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB), the rigor of two top-tier medical centers, Columbia University Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medicine, blends with world-class psychiatry and autism expertise to bring the latest evidence-based approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Spearheaded by Stephen M. Kanne, PhD, the new Director of CADB, the center’s clinical, research and educational initiatives are designed to enhance the lives of people with autism across the lifespan.

“CADB is endowed with an incredibly strong foundation, physical infrastructure, and a talented team of ASD experts,” says Dr. Kanne, a pediatric neuropsychologist who previously served as the executive director of the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders and a professor in the Department of Health Psychology at the University of Missouri. “My goal is to take this strong foundation and build it bigger and broader to meet the needs of the ASD population in Westchester County and New York State.”

Located on a 214-acre bucolic campus in White Plains, New York, NewYork-Presbyterian’s CADB provides personalized, comprehensive care for adults, children and their families who are living with ASD and other developmental disorders. The campus serves as a central hub for comprehensive patient and family services, research programs, and educational efforts. The innovative facility has been designed with the needs and sensitivities of individuals and families living with ASD in mind, featuring warm and inviting interiors and serenity gardens. Outpatient services are provided by a clinical team that takes a sensitive approach to every phase of care, from evidence-based comprehensive evaluations and treatment programs to consultations with community providers, with the goal of integrating top-notch care to enhance quality of life.

Dr. Kanne has over 20 years of specialized clinical training and experience working with children and adults with ASD, focusing on the measurement of ASD symptoms and traits, treatment outcome and measure development. Trained to the point of research reliability in the Autism Diagnostic Interview, Revised (ADI-R) and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition (ADOS-2), Dr. Kanne is an independent trainer for both instruments, allowing him to supervise and train others in the use of these assessment tools.

As the new Director of CADB, Dr. Kanne is well-poised to bring the vibrant center, long distinguished by its focus on interdisciplinary, evidence-based approaches to ASD evaluation and treatment, to an even higher level of excellence. “In this field, there is pressure to perform ASD evaluations more quickly and more easily to meet the needs of the growing ASD population,” says Dr. Kanne. “Our opportunity for growth at CADB is to perform these gold standard evaluations more efficiently so that we can increase our bandwidth without compromising our quality.”

Dr. Kanne plans to maximize CADB’s physical space to meet the complex needs of people with ASD. “Many autism centers are actually virtual centers that have no single or integrated physical location,” says Dr. Kanne. “One of our goals is to create a broad-reach facility that offers patients comprehensive diagnostic as well as providing medical treatment from experts in nutrition, psychiatry, neurology and other specialties that can be drawn through our network of care at Columbia and Cornell.”

“We’re also keeping our eyes on patients’ behavioral symptoms and are employing early interventions for any emerging problems, going way beyond what many describe as ‘diagnose and adios’ to provide ongoing, tailored services that meet our patient’s evolving needs,” he adds.

With his colleagues at CADB, Dr. Kanne is conducting research to further the understanding of the causes, treatment, and prevention of autism spectrum disorders. “CADB has a robust and healthy research program, and I am excited to build an infrastructure that supports research initiatives across Cornell and Columbia campuses,” he says. “One of the biggest areas of inquiry in the field of ASD is measurement development. We are currently involved in projects that are technology-based, using mobile devices, to see if we can design accurate and effective tools that are accessible. Another problem holding up the field is, how do we know if ASD treatment works? Very few measures can truly demonstrate effectiveness. We are currently refining a parent report measure, in which the parent fills out a questionnaire about the effectiveness of treatment. Our research question is, can this measure see through parental bias?”

With a passion for teaching and training, Dr. Kanne is thrilled to further CADB’s mission of educating and training the future leaders in the autism field. “Here at CADB we have incredibly talented, friendly and nice people,” he says. “I look forward to creating a culture of collaboration by leveraging the team’s skill sets and inspiring them to reach a higher level of service. Truly, the sky is the limit here.”

“My measure of success is that if parents think their child may have autism, wherever they are in the US, they will look to the CADB as that ‘place on the mountain,’ the very best place to bring their child,” he says. “I look forward to working with my colleagues at CADB and the wider community to raise awareness about how CADB can help families.”


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