Milestones 2017 Honoree Dr. Thomas Frazier - Research & Medicine
Posted on 05/23/17 in Milestones Conference by Milestones
Dr. Thomas Frazier, Milestones 2017 honoree of the Research & Medicine Award, has spent his career making a difference in the lives of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. “Helping people with autism provides meaning to my life,” he says. “It’s what gets me up in the morning.”
A licensed clinical psychologist who received his PhD from Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Frazier’s clinical contributions include adoption of electronic data collection systems and publication of outcomes for the Lerner School Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program; development of outpatient ABA programs to serve young, underserved children; overseeing growth of the social SPIES outpatient program providing social skills training and peer integration for children with high functioning autism.
His research contributions include the publication of more than 100 research articles in peer-reviewed journals and more than 150 scientific abstracts and invited talks at national and international research conferences. In addition, Dr. Frazier is renowned for his studies validating the DSM-5 criteria for autism and investigations describing structural brain abnormalities in children and adolescents with autism.
Dr. Frazier has served in many roles at Cleveland Clinic, including as staff psychologist and director of the Center for Autism, as well as assistant professor of pediatrics in the Lerner College of Medicine. In April 2017, Dr. Frazier joined Autism Speaks as Chief Science Officer where he continues to advance research that will increase understanding of autism’s causes, improve screening and diagnosis, and develop effective interventions.
How do you feel your efforts have impacted the autism and special needs community?
In clinical practice, I believe my biggest impacts have been in developing services that provide outpatient Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) treatment to young children with autism who are not able to access intensive intervention services, parent groups to provide support and initial training in behavioral methods, and in increasing the availability of diagnostic and care coordinator services.
In research, the most impactful projects I have participated in have been studies that clarified the organization of autism symptoms and clarified differences in symptom patterns across males and females, investigations that identified specific patterns of brain abnormalities in autism, and the characterization of a unique genetic-subgroup of autism associated with mutations in the PTEN gene.
How has helping others shaped your life?
Being involved in helping people with autism has provided meaning to both my professional and personal life. It’s what gets me up in the morning and sustains me, even on the hardest days.
What is your message to inspire others to serve the autism and special needs community?
Outside of being a good spouse and father, I have experienced nothing more rewarding than helping people with developmental disabilities. A wise farmer once explained that he gives away his best corn to his neighbors. He does this not out of selflessness but because this causes them to grow better corn which leads to his crop being sustained and strengthened. The point for me is, even when you can’t muster selflessness, recognize that doing good for people with autism gives back to you more than you could imagine.