Selected Speeches

Centers for Adults With Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

Dec. 6, 2019
Health Sciences Research Facility III

Good evening, everyone. It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate with you tonight. I add my thanks to Gov. Hogan for his powerful advocacy of this project. I thank House Minority Leader Nic Kipke and his colleagues who understood the difference we could make here, and offered their critical support.

To Ms. Rosbeck and everyone at the TS Alliance, you know what these centers will mean for people with neurodevelopmental disabilities—and for the families and friends who love them. We’re in your debt. I thank Dean Al Reece and Dr. Mohan Suntha for tying together world-class research and world-class care. That partnership is a lifeline for these patients and their families.

To Dr. Crino and the entire Department of Neurology, what an achievement! Not just these centers, but the way you’ve built this department into a premier neuroscience hub. This is mission-critical for the School of Medicine and for the University going forward, and we’re so proud of your work.

Let me clear: I’m not a neuroscientist. But I am a pediatrician—more specifically, a pediatric gastroenterologist. And I continue to care for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities complicated by gastrointestinal and nutritional disorders. My clinic is just across the street at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Too often, these children have nowhere to go for continued care as adults. And so that’s what I consider especially striking about these centers. They allow these children—who now receive excellent care—to continue getting that level of care as adults. NO ONE should fall through the cracks of our health care system—and, without question, they do. We know they do.

It’s not unusual for me to treat young patients who have autism or epilepsy, or other neurological conditions. We know these disorders are associated with a higher prevalence of other medical conditions, including gastrointestinal disorders.

What’s worse, neurodevelopmental disabilities affect communication and cognition. So getting the right care, the right treatment, for these patients is difficult. They’re vulnerable to being misunderstood or, worse, ignored.

Now imagine that young patient—that child—is older. An adult. And he’s more vulnerable than ever. He doesn’t have that continuum of care. She doesn’t have someone who knows her and hears her and understands her. They don’t have the best clinicians and researchers providing the best treatment: the personal relationships and the personalized care that make all the difference in the world.

That’s heartbreaking. And that’s what these centers aim to fix. These centers will help us right this wrong. And if this model can be replicated across the country, as Dr. Crino wants, that’s what they’ll fix for thousands and thousands of people, and families, and friends, those who want only to see their loved ones do well and thrive. That’s what we all want. Thank you.

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