Tallahassee Business Journal September-October 2008Corridor Update
Compiled by Jason Dehart
SPOTLIGHTFSU Studying Autism Intervention
By Jason Dehart
Researchers at Florida State University and the University of Michigan have been awarded a $7 million grant to team up and discover how much of a difference early treatment makes in the lives of toddlers who have autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Previous studies show children 3 to 5 years old with ASD have the best outcomes if they undergo treatment at least 25 hours a week. But the numbers aren’t yet in on the effectiveness of treatment on kids younger than that, because children with ASD aren’t typically diagnosed prior to age 3. Amy Wetherby, a professor of clinical sciences and director of FSU’s Autism Institute in the College of Medicine, is principal investigator for the grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health. Professor Catherine Lord is her counterpart at Michigan. “A preliminary study at FSU demonstrated the feasibility and promising results of this early intervention,” Wetherby says. “With the new funding from NIMH, we will be able to train researchers at the University of Michigan on early intervention and conduct a large-scale study to examine the impact on toddlers with ASD and their families. The findings will underscore the importance of early detection of ASD leading to early intervention.”No single red flag shows that a child has ASD. Symptoms at 18 months include a lack of appropriate gaze; lack of using eye gaze with sounds, gestures and facial expression; lack of sharing interest or enjoyment; lack of response to name; lack of warm, joyful expressions; lack of showing or pointing gestures to get others to notice objects of interest; unusual melody of speech or babbling; and repetitive movements with objects or with the body. Researchers hope the study will reveal important evidence of parent-implemented intervention for toddlers, and that screening toddlers is crucial to early intervention. “The future for children with ASD is changing every day as we create more services to support their strengths and address or prevent difficulties,” Lord says. “As we develop ways of identifying ASD in younger and younger children, we must develop treatment methods and family supports that are appropriate for toddlers.”
Wal-Mart: Where Low Prices Meet Environmentalism
It’s a big box. But this one has a twist – it’s a big “green” box. Tallahassee’s newest Wal-Mart Supercenter opened its doors in the Buck Lake area in May with “environmentally friendly” technology designed to reduce the store’s energy use. That’s why, when you visit the frozen foods section, lights in the freezer cases snap to life as you approach and shut off when you leave. “Wal-Mart is setting the bar for energy efficiency in retail,” says store manager Greg Coggins. “Simple changes can make a big difference.”In addition to the power-saving sensors, skylights “harvest” daylight and reduce the store’s lighting energy. In bathrooms, water flow is regulated through the use of sensor-activated faucets in the sinks and high-efficiency toilets and urinals.
GVA Advantis Takes the Reins at SouthWood
The St. Joe Company recently selected GVA Advantis as its exclusive representative for selling and leasing commercial properties in the SouthWood development. This includes prime retail out-parcels, office sites and the mixed-use Town Center project. “We look forward to furthering the work of attracting quality owners, users and tenants to the SouthWood project,” says Lucas Hewett, president of the Florida region for GVA Advantis. “Their team has the specific competencies, relevant experience and aggressive approach to marketing that we require,” says Mike Brandon, director of strategic planning for St. Joe.
TCC, UCF Teach Solar Tech
As “green” building becomes a driving force in residential and commercial construction, Tallahassee Community College and the University of Central Florida have joined forces to teach the industry how to use alternative energy technologies. The partnership is part of the Employ Florida Alternative Energy Center, a statewide training program. This fall, TCC will provide training to building contractors and existing construction workers in two areas, solar electricity and solar hot water and pool heating.