Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

The Marcus Institute

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

The Marcus Institute

Article excerpt

Partnering with the Kennedy Krieger Institute brings services to underserved children.

Marcus Institute An affiliate of Kennedy Krieger Institute at Emory University

Grounded in more than 65 years' experience serving children and adolescents with neurological disabilities, Baltimore-based Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI) is renowned for its expertise--not only in providing care but also in research, professional training and education related to childhood disabilities. Through its commitment to sharing its acquired wealth of knowledge in the field of disabilities, KKI has enjoyed an informal affiliation with the Atlanta-based Marcus Institute since its inception in 1992. A generous donation from Bernard Marcus--the entrepreneur behind Home Depot who is also a philanthropist and co-founder (with his wife Billie) of the Institute--enabled a formal partnership in 1998.

As a result of this merger, the Marcus Institute has become the cornerstone of a long-range plan envisioned by KKI to establish a national network of developmental behavioral services for children with neurological disorders and to heighten awareness regarding disabilities within communities and legislative systems governing them. Says Marcus, "We want to take the very best of what's happened in Baltimore and move it to Atlanta, then to other cities."

Prior to the establishment of the Marcus Institute, children with developmental disabilities living in the Southeast region of the US were diagnosed and treated somewhat inconsistently. Moreover, coordination of services among providers, critical when managing complex disabilities requiring various specialists and services, was often disjointed. The Marcus Institute fills an important void by offering coordinated and appropriate services for children whose needs were not previously met.

Highly specialized programs offered at the Marcus Institute require equally specialized medical professionals. Some of these programs, such as the Behavior Center and the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program, utilize techniques that have been proven effective through years of application and refinement at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Addressing severe behavioral disorders

For the children who live with this problem--approximately 10-15 percent of individuals with mental retardation, autism, or severe developmental disabilities--not a lot of options exist. Families may turn to pharmacological therapies, which have produced mixed results at best. From sheer desperation, families sometimes consider placing such children in institutions. Out of this dire need grew Kennedy Krieger Institute's neurobehavioral inpatient and outpatient programs in Baltimore and now, an affiliated program at the Marcus Institute in Atlanta.

The goal of these programs is to provide advanced and comprehensive treatment services, promote widespread dissemination of effective treatment technologies through highly specialized training and consultation, and facilitate the development and refinement of effective treatments through systematic evaluation of clinical innovations.

Positive results are evidence of behavioral theories that can work as well in practice as they read in text books, when applied with meticulous detail and consistency. Not only have the behavior analysis techniques honed by the NBU staff proven effective in treating the most difficult behavioral problems--the staff achieves a 90 percent decrease in aggressive behavior among three quarters of its inpatients and a recidivism rate below 5 percent--they have set the standard for the entire country.

Keeping families together

Scott Fendlay was born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. Despite the pessimistic predictions of medical professionals who told the Fendlays that Scott would never walk, he learned to walk, ride a bike, and roller-skate. But as Scott got older, his behavior began to present a major challenge to his family. …

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