Degrees/Diplomas: PhD UCLA
Campus Affiliation: College of Staten Island
Training Area: Human Development
Using a combination of behavioral observations, eye-tracking, surveys and standardized measures, I study strengths and weaknesses associated with autism spectrum disorders across the lifespan. I have examined concurrent and longitudinal relations between early social and non-social attention and subsequent autistic symptomatology and linguistic and adaptive skills. Through an online survey, my collaborators and I discovered that individuals on the autism spectrum and people aware of the neurodiversity movement (an autism rights movement) are less interested in finding a cure for autism than people without autism and people who are not aware of the neurodiversity movement. Thus, the majority of autism research currently conducted in the United States may not reflect the research interests of many people on the autism spectrum. However, individuals on and off the spectrum who participated in our study shared an interest in helping people on the spectrum gain adaptive skills and independence. Thus, my current research focuses on using technology to help individuals on the spectrum communicate and plan for the future. Drawing from my experiences working directly with children on the spectrum, my collaborators and I are developing an iPad app to help children with autism communicate about and predict their emotions. We are also developing an online planning and social networking tool to help students with autism connect to one another and plan for the future.