Fred Volkmar, MD

  • Irving B. Harris Professor in the Child Study Center and Professor of Psychology

Fred R. Volkmar, M.D. is Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology at the Yale University Child Study Center, School of Medicine. A graduate of the University of Illinois where he received in undergraduate degree in psychology in 1972 and of Stanford University where he received his M.D. and a master’s degree in psychology in 1976 Dr. Volkmar was the primary author of the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-IV autism and pervasive developmental disorders section. He is the author of several hundred scientific papers and chapters as well as a number of books including Asperger’s Syndrome (Guilford Press), Health Care for Children on the Autism Spectrum (Woodbine Publishing), the Handbook of Autism (Wiley Publishing), and A Practical Guide to Autism: What Every Parent, Teacher and Family Members Needs to Know (Wiley Publishing) with another three books in varying stages of production. He has served as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and the American Journal of Psychiatry. He currently serves as Editor of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. He has served as co-chairperson of the autism/intellectual disabilities committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. In addition to having directed the internationally known autism clinic he also served as director of autism research at Yale before becoming chairperson of the Department. Dr. Volkmar has been the principal investigator of three program project grants including a CPEA (Collaborative Program of Excellent in Autism) grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and a STAART (Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment) Autism Center Grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Research interests
Autistic Disorder; Child Psychiatry; Neuropsychology; Asperger Syndrome; Psychiatry and Psychology
Research summary

Our research focuses on neurobiology and treatment of autism and related disorders in individuals of all ages (infants through adults). We are interested in mechanisms (brain and genetics) as well as treatment.

Specialized Terms: Autism and related disorders; Asperger's disorder; Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD); Social development; Diagnosis; Neuropsychology

  • MA, Stanford University, 1976
  • MD, Stanford University, 1976
  • Chawarska, K., Volkmar, F., & Klin, A. (2010). Limited Attentional Bias for Faces in toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 67:2, 178-185. [PMID: 20124117]
  • Pinto, D., Pagnamenta, A. T., Klei, L., Anney, R., Merico, D., Regan, R., et al. (2010). Functional impact of global rare copy number variation in autism spectrum disorders. [10.1038/nature09146]. Nature, advance online publication. [PMID: 20531469]
  • Reichow, B. & Volkmar, F.R. (2010). Social Skills Interventions for Individuals with Autism: Evaluation for Evidence-Based Practices within a Best Evidence Synthesis Framework. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40:2, 149-166. [PMID: 19655240]
  • Volkmar, F., Jou, R. (In press). Diffusion Tensor Imaging in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Preliminary Evidence of Abnormal Neural Connectivity. (ANP-2010-00124.R1), Australian and New Zealand J of Psychiatry.
  • Volkmar, F.R. & Wiesner, E.A. (2009). A Practical Guide to Autism: What Every Parent, Family Member, and Teacher Needs to Know. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.
International activities
  • Child Study
    Netherlands (2008-Present)
    Dr. Volkmar collaborates with colleagues at the University of Utrecht, University of Groningen, and the Korzak Foundation on various child study issues.

    Korzak Foundation, Utrecht University, University of Groningen, Korzak Foundation, Utrecht University, University of Groningen

  • Autism Research & Child Study
    Italy (2007-Present)
    The autism research and clinical faculty of the Child Study Center are engaged in a collaboration with the University of Sienna in developing a new master's program for educators wishing to specialize in the treatment of autism.

    University of Sienna, University of Sienna

Current projects
Our research has focused on understanding some aspects of the fundamental nature of autism. In particular we are attempting to understand the nature of the social difficulties (autism) that are at the heart of autism and how these relate to the seemingly paradoxical oversensitivity to the nonsocial environment (unusual sensitivities and interests, difficulties with change and novelty). Given the wide range of expression in autism and related disorders we study various groups (from babies to adults, from very cognitively impaired to very cognitively able individuals). We also employ a range of methods including eye tracking, functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging, and genetic approaches among others. Our work has shown fundamental differences in the way individuals with autism process social interaction. Using innovative experimental approaches we have now extended this work to infants and younger children using visual and auditory tasks. We have recently undertaken a major prospective study of infants at risk for autism in an attempt to better understand how the disorder is manifest early in development. A long standing interest has been in developing better guidelines to diagnosis of autism and related conditions (we were the main coordinators of the DSM-IV field trial for autism). We have also been very interested in developing new methods to screen for and diagnose autism in the first months of life.
  • Prospective study of infants at risk for autism
  • Follow-up studies of autism
  • Treatment studies
  • Extending outreach to communities/families
  • George Tarjan Award for Research in Developmental Disabilities
  • Blanche F. Ittleson Award
  • Editor Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
    Springer Publishing