Schroeder returns to direct project of a lifetime

Schroeder returns to direct project of a lifetime

Former Life Span Institute Director and Professor Emeritus Stephen Schroeder is exuberant these days. As the principal investigator of a new National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center grant, he is fulfilling a lifelong dream to research disability prevention and oversee the first early intervention program for disability in Peru with LSI’s Peruvian affiliate, Centro Ann Sullivan del Perú (CASP). 

LSI began collaborating with CASP in 1983 and made affiliation official in 1990. At first, KU offered scientific expertise to CASP. This collaboration was so successful that Schroeder now hopes that there will be a way of packaging the family-oriented lifelong education CASP model for the United States.

With the Fogarty grant, Schroeder can continue his lifelong engagement with an old foe: severe aberrant behaviors in people with intellectual disabilities.

Aberrant behaviors or self-injury, aggression and stereotyped behavior, are some of the most devastating neurodevelopmental disorders (ND), Schroeder explains, because they lead to deteriorating health and, sometimes, early death, prevent community integration and job retention and impair learning and socialization.

The project will screen 1000 infants and toddlers ages 6 to 36 months. Schroeder expects to nd 250 who are at risk for ND, about half of whom are also likely to be at risk for aberrant behaviors. The project will follow 100 or more of them at six-month intervals for 12 months with in-depth interdisciplinary pediatric, psychoeducational, behavioral, neurological and genetic assessments to see if the children develop aberrant behaviors. The results of this early identi cation program will be followed by a five-year project grant on early preventive intervention of aberrant behavior building on the existing excellent psycho-educational program and distance learning network at CASP.

Schroeder proposes that they will find differences in the development of aberrant behavior due to sociocultural practices and health issues, such as uncontrolled environmental pollution, in Latin America.

“In Peru, like many other countries, there is no entitlement for disability,” Schroeder said. “We plan to develop a risk algorithm that will permit a cost-effective effort at early preventive intervention that can be replicated throughout Latin America, across the CASP distance learning network and beyond, for young children with these extremely debilitating problems.”