Scientific/Educational Advisory Board
Margaret Bauman, M.D.
Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School; Director of LADDERS
Dr. Margaret L. Bauman is a distinguished pediatric neurologist and research investigator who has been a pioneer in the study and treatment of autism for the past twenty- five years. One of the world’s foremost physicians in this field, she is highly respected for the outstanding clinical care she provides, as well as for her research and teachings in the domain of developmental disorders. Renowned for a wealth of clinical and research advances, Dr. Bauman’s dedicated career is best exemplified in her establishment and development of The Autism Research Foundation (TARF), The Autism Research Consortium (TARC), LADDERS (Learning and Developmental Disabilities and Rehabilitation Services) and The Autism Treatment Network (ATN).
Dr. Bauman began her work in earnest in the field of autism in 1980. Four years later she and her research partner, Dr. Thomas L. Kemper, opened the door to future scientific study when they were the first investigators to identify neuro-anatomical abnormalities in the limbic system and cerebellum of people with autism. Spurred by these first scientific observations that confirmed the biologic basis for autism, Dr. Margaret Bauman founded TARF in 1990. TARF is devoted to the study of the neuro-pathological basis for autism. Under her guidance, TARF has been the global leader in such research – a position that Dr. Bauman gratefully acknowledges would not be possible but for the generosity and foresight of families who have donated the brain of their deceased autistic family member to scientific study. TARF researchers are widely published and disseminate their knowledge pertaining to the pathology of the brain in autism, behavioral disorders, and the relationship between autism and memory to colleagues and the general public via their writings and lectures throughout the world.
In 1996, continuing her leadership role in autism research, Dr. Bauman founded The Autism Research Consortium. She invited a small group of elite investigators – some who were directly involved in autism research, others who worked in related fields – to come together to form a “think tank” to determine the most fruitful course for future studies. TARC is a venue that provides a multidisciplinary, integrated approach to optimize the scientific use of the valuable and limited brain tissue available for the study of autism.
The energetic brilliance that Dr. Margaret Bauman has brought to the world of autism research through her work at TARF and TARC, is mirrored in the clinical care setting she has developed at LADDERS. LADDERS is a comprehensive diagnostic and therapeutic program for children, adolescents, and adults with autism and associated neurological disorders founded by Dr. Bauman in 1981. Dr. Bauman has recruited top practitioners in the field to provide a true team approach to the cohesive evaluation and treatment of each patient, while including parents as key team members. Dr. Bauman has established a comprehensive evaluation and treatment protocol at LADDERS with the goal that each patient will reach his/her true potential. This protocol includes major provisions for a follow-up plan based on the individual’s need for medical, educational, and rehabilitative services and for working closely with families to give them the information and resources they may need to care for their child/adult with developmental disabilities. As appropriate, LADDERS providers coordinate with primary physicians and community agencies to insure the needed services are put into place. LADDERS assists in advocating for appropriate school programs and access to current research into the pathology of autism.
Dr. Bauman has led LADDERS through a series of hospital affiliations and in significant growth in the numbers of patients that are serviced. In 1997, LADDERS joined the Mass General Hospital for Children and the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. The next year, LADDERS serviced approximately 1,000 patients. In the year 2007, it is expected that LADDERS will render medical and therapeutic intervention through approximately 10,000 patient visits. Under Dr. Bauman’s leadership, LADDERS has continued to expand its delivery of services to those on the autism spectrum and now includes team expertise in the specialties of neurology, psychiatry, psychopharmacokinetics, gastroenterology, genetics, nursing, social work, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, developmental pediatrics, behavioral psychology and neuropsychology with additional specialties addressed by consultants. Together these professionals provide each patient with an individualized program from evaluation to an array of comprehensive services and treatments necessary for the child/adult to reach his/her maximum potential.
Dr. Margaret Bauman has combined the knowledge gained from her progressive research with her exemplary expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of autism and associated neurological disorders to the betterment of those living with these disabilities. Her mission since 2005 has been to establish centers nationwide (The Autism Treatment Network) and create a “gold standard” of medical treatment that will be made broadly available to physicians, researchers, parents, policy makers and others dedicated to enhancing the care of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This is achieved through the development of: 1) a shared National Medical Database to record the results of treatment and studies at the regional centers—an approach that has proven effective in enhancing care among other childhood disorders, 2) a resource network of collaborating professionals and institutions, and 3) monthly multidisciplinary clinics to provide coordinated care.
A number of associated medical conditions have been observed in the ASD population including, but not limited to: 1) gastrointestinal disorders, 2) seizure disorders, 3) disturbed sleep patterns, 4) environmental and food allergies, 5) irregular diaphragmatic control, 6) urinary bladder spasticity, 7) anxiety, depression, compulsions, hyperactivity, 7) tics, 8) hormonal irregularities in a subset of adolescent autistic girls, and 9) metabolic disorders. None of these conditions has been rigorously studied in autism and thus their frequency and relationship to the disorder remain largely unknown. The Autism Treatment Network meets this need by identifying and characterizing the various medical conditions described above and using this data to research and improve the treatment, care, and quality of life for individuals with ASD and their families. A parallel goal of the Autism Treatment Network is to establish a multi-center, collaborative database to be used as a tool for improving identification and characterization of various medical conditions associated with autism in children ages 3-18.
Countless professionals have benefited from her teaching, leadership, and challenge to excel. Her commitment, passion, and dedication to advancing the understanding of the biology of autism while promoting and providing the delivery of optimum clinical care define Dr. Margaret Bauman as a world leader in this field.