Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Unit

Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Unit

Mind Area

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Neurodevelopmental disorders

○ Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorders are neurodevelopmental disorders characterised by difficulties with communication, social interaction, behaviour (adaptability and interests) and in many occasions difficulties with processing sensory information. They originate from multiple biological and environmental causes that interact differently in each case.

ASD requires comprehensive, medical and psychological assessments to guide parents and intervene as accurately and early as possible. The lack of treatments to very efficiently and quickly reverse ASD-related problems has led to many alternatives being offered without any evidence. The treatments currently proven to be the most effective in improving the prognosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders and other neurodevelopmental disorders are all early, intensive, comprehensive and long-term. The brain’s plasticity means that a very significant improvement can be expected in some cases only if treatment starts in the first years. Early complete diagnosis therefore becomes essential and includes:

  • Medical/psychiatric diagnosis.
  • Psychometric diagnosis.
  • Additional tests if necessary: analysis, imaging tests, genetic tests.
  • Full report on diagnosis, skills and difficulties, guidance for parents and treatment.
  • Recommendations/psychopharmacological treatment if required.

We also offer a personalised version of some of the following interventions:

  • Psychopedagogical intervention.
  • Guidance for parents on how to bring up children with difficulties.
  • Psychopedagogical intervention.
  • Sensory integration.
  • Coordination with educational resources.
  • Group intervention for preteens/adolescents with social difficulties: FORTIUS Programme, Lego therapy.
LEGO® Club /  LEGO® Therapy

We create, through shared interests and goals, a way to effectively develop the social and communication skills of autistic children which are fully transferable to peer interactions in the real world. LEGO® Therapy creates a group work structure where each individual has a role and a specialised therapist facilitates and encourages communication, problem solving, as well as helping to develop creative and collaborative play. This is backed by scientific evidence (Daniel LeGoff, Baron Cohen).

"The best kind of therapy is when it's so much fun that the child doesn't know it's happening."

Lynne Koegel, PhD, Clinical Director, Koegel Autism Center, University of California Santa Barbara, CA

FORTIUS programme.

Psychological strength, prevention of emotional difficulties and social skills training.

Our goal is to strengthen the child psychologically, preparing him or her to face emotional and interpersonal difficulties through group dynamics. The benefits of the programme are primarily minimising unease and preventing problems arising from the child's difficulties, and generally helping to develop a healthy personality, promoting well-being and improving quality of life.

○ Diagnosis and guidance for specific neurodevelopmental disorders, specifically diagnosis and psychiatric/psychological guidance for genetic syndromes.
Learning, attention and behavioural disorders:
  • Psychiatric and psychological diagnosis
  • Individual treatment (psychotherapy and/or pharmacotherapy)
  • Family intervention
  • Group interventions
  • Neuropsychological intervention
  • Early stimulation
Schools/workshops for parents:
  • Behavioural disorders
  • ADHD
  • Emotional disorders

Medical coordination

Dr Mara Parellada

Psychiatrist, university specialist in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (Institute of Psychiatry in London). Doctor of Medicine (European Doctorate).

Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Complutense University of Madrid. Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) since July 2015.

Professor in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Department of the Gregorio Marañón University Hospital since 2000. Creator and coordinator of AMITEA, a comprehensive health care service for ASD in the Community of Madrid, declared to be a Good Care Practice by the Ministry of Health and the Complex Diagnostic Unit in 2016. Co-creator of the website for familiarisation with the healthcare environment of patients with ASD. Awarded the Health Prize 2018 by Sanitaria 2000 in the Medicine category. Award from the Asperger Association of Madrid and from the Autism Federation of Madrid for her work promoting medical care for ASD.

Principal researcher for autism characteristics at the HGUGM since 2007, focusing on the neurobiology of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), autism-psychosis overlap, searching for biomarkers, new therapeutic targets and improving care for autism. Researcher at CIBERSAM (Center for Biomedical Research in Mental Health Network).

Areas of clinical specialisation: Neurodevelopmental disorders, Autism Diagnosis and Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADHD, adolescent pathology. Diagnosis. Crisis intervention. Psychopharmacology. Guidance for parents. Supportive psychotherapy.

Multiple scientific articles in international journals:

Av. de Alberto de Alcocer, 5, Ground floor
28036 Madrid - Spain

Tel: +34 919 991 160

Dr David Fraguas

David Fraguas is a doctor with a degree in medicine from the Autonomous University of Madrid and a doctor in the history of medicine from the Complutense University of Madrid, as well as a specialist in psychiatry from the Gregorio Marañón University Hospital. Dr Fraguas works professionally in clinical, teaching and research areas, and his clinical activity focuses on the care of children, adolescents and young people with emotional problems and neurodevelopmental disorders (such as autism spectrum disorders and pervasive developmental disorders).

He is part of the clinical team of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Service’s AMI-TEA programme at Gregorio Marañón University Hospital, and is an expert in the care of mental and behavioural health problems in people with genetic syndromes (such as 22q11 syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, chromosome 15 syndromes, syndromes related to the BAF complex and others). He is also an Honorary Member of the 22q Association of Spain.

As a teacher, he is an associate professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Complutense University of Madrid and a visiting professor at the Contemporary School of Humanities. Dr Fraguas also teaches the Interuniversity Master's Degree in Mental Health Research at the Center for Biomedical Research in Mental Health Network (CIBERSAM, Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities) and teaches numerous courses to mental health professionals on neuroscience, psychopharmacology and psychopathology.

He is a clinical researcher at the Gregorio Marañón Health Research Institute and a researcher at CIBERSAM, where he coordinates the national cohort of first psychotic episodes. In recent years he has been interested in the study of subjectivity, the history of mental health medicine and psychopathology. He has published, among other books, The importance of hours (Miguel Hernández de Poesía Award, 2008) and Cervantes and psychotherapy ("Academia del Hispanismo" International Prize for scientific and critical research on Spanish literature, 2015).

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