Vanderbilt Kennedy Center produces resources, answers calls amid COVID-pandemic

3D illustration of the novel coronavirus

The rapidly evolving challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have caused countless disruptions for individuals with disabilities and families across the country. In response, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) has developed a variety of resources for individuals with disabilities, families and caregivers, providers, and diagnosticians.


The VKC Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (VKC TRIAD) has developed a series of ongoing training webinars for families, providers, and professionals. While limited to 500 participants during the live presentations, all are archived on the VKC website. For more information or to view the archives, visit

  • Telemedicine-based Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessment in Toddlers
    Currently archived
    This webinar provides training on an ASD tele-diagnostic triage tool for clinicians to use for families of young children in need of autism assessment and faced with geographic or social distancing barriers. Learn about TELE-ASD-PEDS, a new tool explicitly built for this purpose and under evaluation in an ongoing trial (, NCT03847337). TELE-ASD-PEDS was designed for diagnosticians to use without need for prior training or standardized materials.
  • screenshot of videoEarly Intervention Focused Telehealth Support Series for Providers
    Thursdays, 12:00 p.m. CT until further notice (sessions are archived)
    This series introduces the remote delivery of early intervention services to young children with ASD and related developmental delays and disabilities. Through participation in this series, early intervention providers will receive information on the following topics:

    • How to access web-based curricula on evidence-based practices to support young children with ASD. Available curricula include communication, challenging behavior, social play, sleep, and toilet training;
    • How to best utilize web-based curricula to support families via telehealth;
    • Strategies to support remote coaching and consultation with caregivers;
    • Ethical considerations for the delivery of telehealth services; and
    • Logistical consideration for providers and caregivers establishing telehealth services.
  • Families First Online Education Series
    Thursdays, 1:00-1:30 p.m. CT until further notice (sessions are archived)
    This series for caregivers of young children with autism will include information on topics such as how to schedule your day at home during this time, how to structure specific activities within your day, and how to continue to work on goal areas while services may be paused. Participants are able to attend as few or as many as they would like, as this is not a series.
  • Ethical Considerations for Delivering ABA Services via Telemedicine
    (in partnership with Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities)
    Currently archived
    This webinar provides an introductory overview of key ethical considerations in delivering behavior analytic services via telemedicine. VKC TRIAD regularly uses various modes of tele-practice to reach and support families and educators in rural and low resource communities, and will share foundational information based on lessons learned and a broad expertise across a variety of telemedicine-based programming.
    • Overview of administration and scoring of 12 items;
    • Practice scoring and interpretation of results;
    • Explaining results to parents; and
    • Diagnostic applications in primary care and telehealth.

Printable Resources

VKC staff members have created new resources that address concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19) in individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and use plain language to explain necessary precautions such as social distancing and thorough handwashing. These resources have been added to a comprehensive list of coronavirus-related resources including visual supports, social stories, and videos from other disability support organizations.

Resources can be accessed from the Coronavirus Resources webpage of Tennessee Disability Pathfinder.

A list of coronavirus resources and information in Spanish (Recursos de Alivio de Desastres, Coronavirus) has been pulled together through the Camino Seguro website. Additionally, resources for health care providers are available on a dedicated webpage located at the top of the VKC’s IDD Health Care Toolkit website.

Information and Referral

Though the VKC’s physical offices remain closed, staff at Tennessee Disability Pathfinder are available via phone (800-640-4636) or email ( to assist individuals in accessing additional resources.

“Despite our team members working from their homes, we are continuing to answer calls, respond to emails and provide resources for individuals with disabilities and their families, caregivers, agency staff, health care providers and others. We’ve fielded calls about everything from unemployment benefits to resources for supplies. We’re in close communication with the state agencies who serve people with disabilities and others involved. Our bilingual staff have been working with callers and community agencies serving the bilingual community. We welcome calls and emails and invite the community to continue to use the Tennessee Disability Pathfinder database of resources and agencies across Tennessee” said Megan Hart, Tennessee Disability Pathfinder Project Director. In addition to being a project of the Vanderbilt Kennedy University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Pathfinder is also supported by the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the Tennessee Department of Health.

Online Advice for Caregivers

VKC member Anjali Forber-Pratt worked with the American Psychological Association to outline strategies that may help to ease stressors by pointing to important ways parents and caregivers of children and youth with disabilities can cope with the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional strategies for adults with disabilities is forthcoming. Click here to read the article.

Courtney Taylor is director of VKC Communications.

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This is a monthly email of Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Notables published by the Communications staff of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. Between issues of Notables, you can stay up to date on the latest Vanderbilt Kennedy Center news, information, and resources via the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Facebook page.