Frequently Asked Questions
I am finishing a doctoral degree in Special Education at
Boston University with a concentration on the autism spectrum.
Some of the research projects I am involved in include the
efficacy of elevation as an intervention for working with
children on the autism spectrum. Starting with the visual
cliff study of Eleanor Gibson and James Walk in 1961, there
has been a substantial amount of research indicating that
people become more aware of their environment when encountering
a visual cliff.
Arnold Miller, Ph. D., has been using elevation as an intervention
for increasing body to environmental awareness for the past
35 years at the Language and Cognitive Development Center.
While there is substantial clinical evidence that elevation
is useful in working with children on the autism spectrum
at this school as well as other locations, there are no
formal, scientific studies proving the efficacy of this
method. He, myself, and others are now conducting a formal
study of this nature to measure the effect of elevation.
I am conducting a validation study of the Miller Diagnostic
Scales (MDS). The MDS is a developmental questionnaire somewhat
like the Rimland E-2 assessment tool. One of the major goals
for this instrument is to, after a parent or other caretaker
fills out the questionnaire, to be able to parse out which
method is most suitable for a particular child. The literature
is rife with anecdotal evidence as to the superiority of
certain methods over others. Now is the time to study methodology
in a scientific manner.
Before conducting this study, however, it is important
to make sure that the MDS is both reliable and valid in
its measurements. That is the subject of my dissertation.
Some of the methods we are looking at include:
Using Music to Work with People
on the Autism Spectrum
I work with people on the autism of all ages, primarily using
music and sometimes computers. If the person is nonverbal,
I may use music as the means of communication. For children
who have limited verbal skills music can serve as a sort of
carrier signal in which to increase verbal communication.
With those that are very verbal, I find that music continues
to act as a carrier signal for helping them organize their
In addition to communication, I find music
as a very helpful motivator for working on socialization as
well as motor control. Several of people I work with have
actually formed a desire to play the instrument I use to work
with them and what started as more therapeutic sessions morphs
into music lessons focused on learning to play an instrument.
In doing so, the person now has something they can be good
at and enjoy. Read
Presentations and Workshops
on Autism Spectrum Related Topics
Since 1996, I have made over 100 presentations on the autism
spectrum. My presentations cover material including:
Working with Children on the Autism Spectrum
Including Children with Autism in the Classroom
Using Music to Work with Children on the
Issues faced by adults on the Autism Spectrum:
In fact, I contributed a chapter on disclosure to a newly
released text edited by Liane
Willey and this topic will also be the subject of
my next book.
What are your goals?
After earning my doctoral degree in special education (expected
graduation May, 2003), I plan to serve as a professor of special
education while at the same time continuing my research into the
best practices in educational interventions for children with
autism. It is important for me to continue working with and researching
into intervention practices so that I can tie what goes on in
the real world of working with these children to my teaching.
Ideally, I will have a lab school within the college or university
I teach in to conduct this research.
When are you presenting next?
If you live in the area of one of my scheduled
presentations, come and say hello!
Can you present for our organization?
If our schedules coincide, sure. Contact
me for further details.