We are pleased to welcome Deborah Adenikinju to Yes She Can as an intern to assist Director of Training Programs, Lesli Cattan, on the data collection and analysis of trainee assessments.
Meet Deborah Adenikinju
My name is Deborah Adenikinju. I am a mental health activist, neurodiversity advocate, researcher, and behavior technician. I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from New York University with a major in psychology and a minor in Child & Adolescent Mental Health Studies (CAMS). During my senior year, I conducted an independent study at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center on the feasibility and effect of its Social Learning Program (SLP); an evidence-based social skills groups focusing on friendships.
As an international student from Nigeria, I moved to the US to gain the required education and training I deemed necessary to change the narrative on mental health, especially autism, in Nigeria. I plan to earn a PhD in neuropsychology and a master’s in health policy to pioneer change in Africa. I intend to return to Nigeria in the future, to start up my own child study center, and provide essential services for those with disabilities.
Currently, I work as an Employment Support Specialist at Birch Family Services, an organization that provides services catered to those with autism and other developmental disabilities. I am responsible for providing group and individual employment training, individualized support and guidance to individuals on the spectrum, who are attempting to learn and expand skills necessary to obtain and maintain employment.
In addition, I am heavily invested in advocacy and raising awareness. I have been selected to serve as an Autism Speaks Volunteer Advocacy Ambassador for New York City. Some of my duties include: establishing and maintaining relationships with legislators at the federal level, serving as local media advocacy stakeholder and using media tactics that influence elected officials at the federal level, recruiting volunteers to engage in advocacy efforts. I will also be working on the NYC Autism Speaks Walk committee this year.
In line with my dedication for mental health and autism awareness in Africa, I created a blog to serve as a platform for honest conversations about the misrepresentation of mental health, intellectual discussions on how to create a safe and supporting environment, and collaborations by means of research, education, awareness, policies and much more. The blog will also contain much of my personal journey with mental health, and the struggles faced advocating for change.
For more information, please check out my blog at Awo Adunbi Autism