Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Quantifying Engagement in Autism Education Models

My good friend and colleague, Amanda Friedman, director of Emerge and See education center,


 has just published her new blog on Psychology Today and her insights are moving and powerful.  When she asked me to answer a "few short questions" I was curious what she was up to.  Now that she has availed the finished product, I find myself thinking (out loud) how lucky I am that our paths crossed and that I have the opportunity to learn and grow from her.

She is forever inspired by this idea of engagement and "connectivity", especially emotional connections and how this relates to the learning environment:

"T.S. Elliot wrote "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons." In schools for individuals withautism and other different abilities, many programs measure out success and learning with token boards, edible reinforcers, gradual climbs along nuanced developmental charts, and acknowledgement of "maladaptive" behaviors. What is missing here? Ways to measure initiation, engagement, motivation, and interest. If only we could use our research to inform our practices and not just the black and white notion that our methods are perfect and students either succeed or fail within these confines. It is time to measure our methodologies, our affect and presentation of materials, as well as the balance between our output and their processing ability to receive the input. Dare I say, we can use research to create an integrated and TRULY individualized approach to education, engagement, and higher level and more meaningful communication between us and our students, your children? I do. "

If you are inspired, you can read more here.

Thank you, Amanda, for including me on this journey ;-)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Healing Sounds of the City

I am so so proud of my colleagues and friends, Amanda and Allison at Emerge and See Education Center.  They have taken on so many new initiatives (too many to list!), but their latest therapeutic scope now includes listening therapy and the Solisten program (you can learn more here).  I am well aware of the controversies surrounding this intervention (which I am not going to address here) and I do typically prescribe to data driven research versus anecdotal evidence in regards to intervention (especially when it is not covered by insurance and tends to be costly), BUT in this very particular case (featured in the video below), I am a convert.  Chris has also been my client since he was 18 months old (he is now 15!).  He was my very first client through NYC's Early Intervention program and I have a very special place in my heart for him.  I know everyone in this video personally and I have been witness to Chris' growth--I am also so proud to work closely with Amanda Friedman at Emerge and See Education Center (and so lucky to be privy to her brilliance on a weekly basis).  After all of these years, Chris continues to impress all of us (and keeps me on my toes!)