Our Day at Yale Child Study Center
On lucky Friday the 13th of February, Yes She Can went to Yale. I had been invited by Fred Volkmar, M.D., Irving Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Psychology at Yale School of Medicine, Child Study Center to present at his monthly Autism Program Distinguished Lecturer series.
Dr. Sheri Baron, our Girl AGain program psychologist and Yes She Can board member, joined me to share our mission, goals and accomplishments with an audience of autism researchers, clinicians, educators, program administrators and parents. Pat Salner, another board member met us there.
Our presentation is available on Slide Share here: Can a Doll Teach Job Skills?
Here is the Girl AGain overview video produced by The Local Live from Mamaroneck, NY. We think the producers did a wonderful job packing our whole story in to just 4 minutes. I marvel at that because being concise is not my strength.
After our morning presentation, Dr. Volkmar’s assistant, Lori Klein, filled our day with meetings with faculty at Yale Child Study Center.
We had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Volkmar in his office and received his book about Adolescents and Adults with ASD. He also gave me a beautiful scarf with the Yale Child Study Center logo pattern. I proudly wore it to Girl AGain on Saturday.
Kasia Chawarska, PhD, Associate Professor, Director Toddler Developmental Disabilities Clinic
She discussed her study comparing boys and girls with ASD in the infant and toddler years, as well as studies about what toddlers pay attention to when looking at faces through eye-tracking research. It turns out that if the toddlers are looking at a person’s mouth when that person is talking then the subjects do improve their language development. Watching the movements of the mouth seems to help the child to acquire language.
“Curiosity about the environment and drive to explore it is likely to play a very powerful role in the learning and development of children with ASD,” said Katarzyna Chawarska, a senior author of the paper
Fred Shic, PhD Assistant Professor, Director Technology and Innovation Laboratory, Co-Director Yale Early Social Cognition Laboratory.
Fred explores the intersection of technology and psychology. He is particularly interested in social robotics. I have discussed with him how we at Yes She Can could apply the concept of serious games to teach job skills and enable trainees to practice and increase proficiency, reducing anxiety and increasing flexibility. He told me about SuperPlus
I plan to follow up with his colleagues in Norway, Roald Øien, Parent & Research Scientist
Kelly K.Powell, PhD, Associate Research Scientist
With Kelly we discussed the challenges of executive functioning for people with autism including the ability to plan and organize, and shift from one task to another – things we observe are difficult for our trainees. She recommended a book, Unstuck and On Target.
She leads a monthly support group for young women with ASD held at Autism Services and Resources of CT
Julie Wolf, PhD, Assistant Clinical Professor, Autism Program
We discussed the approach she takes to leading groups of older teens and young adults.
Denis Sukhodolsky, PhD Assistant Professor, Researcher and Clinician at the Tourette Syndrome Autism and Anxiety programs.
Denis shared his work habit reversal training, particularly with people who have tics. He is working on a study of Cognitive-Behavioral therapy for anger and aggression in children with ASD. It’s a 12-week commitment and if New Haven were not over an hour away, I would likely sign up for this one! We also talked about the approach of Ross Greene in the Explosive Child, an approach that Sheri Baron endorses too. (if this is an issue for you, check this out his website Lives in the Balance)
Chapel Haven team: Michael Storz, President, Chapel Haven School, Einera Beauvais, VP of programs and Shannon Jacobs, Supervisor
Chapel Haven was established in 1972 and is both a special education program for 18-21 year olds and a life program for adults with autism and developmental disabilities. The focus on developing skills for independent living including those with HFA/Asperger’s who are able to enroll in college or vocational schools.
We brainstormed on ways that Yes She Can and our Girl AGain program could collaborate with Chapel Haven. To start with – I suggested that we bring our activities like Doll Hair Do’s and Don’t’s workshop and Designing a Doll Tee-Shirt workshop to their campus, inviting New Haven American Girl fans to come to participate, and have Chapel Haven women learn how to lead these events. They could also help us acquire more merchandise so we can open a satellite store for Chapel Haven women to run. We talked about how to incorporate their arts program, UArts
I am really looking forward to collaborating with Chapel Haven!
It was an exhilarating day at Yale.
The Yale University Center for Translational Developmental Neuroscience of the Child Study Center at Yale School of Medicine, and The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation will mark the establishment of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Adult Autism Research Fund. Announced on September 11, 2014.