Margaret L. Bauman, MD

The LADDERS Model

The LADDERS clinical model combines evaluation and treatment by physicians, psychologists, and nurse practitioners in collaboration with other professionals involved in the individual’s care, including educational consultants, speech-language pathologists, and physical and occupational therapists. This unique approach originally called LADDERS (Learning and Developmental Disabilities Evaluation & Rehabilitation Services), was founded by Margaret L. Bauman, MD, a pioneer in autism research who mapped the first differences between a typical brain and a brain with autism. Her discovery demonstrated for the first time that autism was related to abnormalities of brain development and not to poor parenting. Until her discovery, autism had actually been blamed on the “refrigerator mother” – a term that suspected the child’s disability was a result of his/her parent’s emotional coldness.

The LADDERS program was born out of a philosophy that developmentally disabled persons deserve to be viewed as individuals, each with his or her personal patterns of talents and challenges. Each person merits the opportunity to be carefully evaluated and to receive the quantity and quality of services necessary to allow that individual to reach his or her maximum potential for independence and personal growth, regardless of economic, social and ethnic background. In achieving these goals, LADDERS sought to enlist the expertise of highly trained professionals with outstanding skills in their respective fields and brought those professionals together to work as team in assessing the needs of each person, recommending and providing appropriate interventions, assisting families to seek and obtain needed services, and providing ongoing support and advocacy.

In 1981, Dr. Bauman was hired, by Youville Hospital in Cambridge, to supervise the outpatient pediatric unit. In persuading the hospital administration to develop a full scale out-patient clinic that would see a child with any type of neurological condition, she expanded the patient population beyond the existing client base of children with cerebral palsy. At that time, the seed of the eventual LADDERS clinic was born.

Autism/PDD is now considered a treatable condition and many children can have and deserve a much brighter future than has been believed in the past. Their ultimate outcomes, however, depend heavily on providing early intensive interventions through therapists with a depth of expertise in their field. 

Neurobiology of Autism
by Dr. Margaret L. Bauman (Editor), Thomas L. Kemper
March 2006

In The Neurobiology of Autism Margaret Bauman and Thomas Kemper bring together leading investigators from the field of autism to discuss advances in scientific research that point to a neurobiological basis for autism and to examine the clinical implications of the research.

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