Fall 2023 at CYDI
The SENSE program: summary of findings
SENSE Theatre is a theatre-based program developed to help kids who have autism develop social competence. In SENSE, kids learn about concepts like social encouragement, directed communication, and social acceptance by interacting with non-autistic and autistic peers in a fun and supportive environment. In this study, kids were randomly assigned to either SENSE Theatre or the control intervention, which was a group program addressing interpersonal relationships and intimacy. Kids who received SENSE exhibited changes in neural responses (brain activity) to social stimuli, which suggests heightened attention to social information, and these changes were linked to improvement in some social behaviors.
Want to learn more? Click HERE to read the full research article!
The CYDI was one of three sites involved in a multisite clinical trial testing the effect of SENSE, a theatre program for kids with autism spectrum disorder. We are grateful to all the families who participated in this study, and to Ms. Sara-Margaret Cates, Theatre Director at Tuscaloosa Academy, for making this work possible.
If you are interested in being a part of treatment studies or other projects please consider joining our family registry: https://redcap.as.ua.edu/surveys/?s=PFK7MWMA37
Missed our recent Parenting Mini-Workshops?
New Research Opportunities for Autistic Adults!
Join us for the next round of the HEARTS study starting in October! HEARTS is a class for autistic adults who want to learn about and discuss healthy friendships and romantic relationships. Click HERE to learn more!
AANE is offering a workshop for autistic adults who are interested in a healthier relationship substances.
If interested, contact
Laura.Graham@hunter.cuny.edu or call 646-585-7886
Research Opportunities for Children!
We are now enrolling children with behavioral or emotional concerns in a new study to see if a training intervention helps them recognize feelings and expressions!
Scan the QR code or click the link to find out if your child is eligible to participate!
We are now enrolling in a new study to explore how children understand emotions through facial expression
Scan the QR code or click the link to find out if your child is eligible to participate!
Calling all Mental Health Providers!
Are you interested in 1:1 consultation services?
Learn more about the
Internet Based Consultation and Networking (i-CAN) Project
& sign up now!
What is the purpose of i-CAN?
We developed i-CAN to help providers (i.e., any mental health service provider) get any support they might find helpful in delivering effective treatment. i-CAN provides one on one consultation, peer support, and help with troubleshooting. Providers can also access resources, like free measures to determine if improvement is happening.
Why is this study being done?
With grant funding, we developed i-CAN and are now conducting this study to determine if it is helpful to providers.
Does it cost to use i-CAN?
There is no cost to use i-CAN, including the one on one consultation. We do ask that users provide us with some information (data) on how helpful it was. All the data collection for the study is online.
What happens if I sign up to enroll?
If you enroll, you will be asked to complete some brief online assessments, then you will get i-CAN (or be in the ‘delayed start’ group). If in the i-CAN group, you will have full access to i-CAN for the duration of this project. We ask you to do three more online assessments, and each one should take one hour or less. You will be financially compensated for all the assessments you complete. We are here to answer any other questions about the study.
If I enroll, will I get to use i-CAN immediately?
You will be randomly assigned to either get i-CAN right away, or get it after a waiting period. Because we randomize providers after enrollment, we do not know yet if you will use i-CAN immediately or be in the ‘delayed start’ group. If you are in the delayed start group, you can access i-CAN after about seven months.
What resources are available in i-CAN?
There are three main types of resources in i-CAN. (1) We have a searchable database of tools, like assessment measures that are free and valid, and information on treatment strategies. (2) We have a moderated peer-to-peer support channel. This is where people pose questions, connect with other providers, find referrals, and communicate as needed. (3) We also offer private, professional consultation with a clinician with specialized training n youth anxiety. The consultation can be useful for things like troubleshooting difficult issues, or thinking through how treatment might need to be adapted.
INTERESTED? Provide your contact information on the form below so we can confirm your eligibility for the study!
i-CAN eligibility form:
New Grant Highlight!
Dr. Susan White has recently received a federally funded grant to support the STEPS Program!
The Stepped Transition in Education Program for Students with ASD (STEPS) is a program designed to support transition to growing independence among autistic adolescents and young adults. The STEPS program is highly individualized to meet the unique needs of each client. It utilizes a cognitive-behavioral model that emphasizes focus on three critical goals:
1) self-knowledge: awareness of one’s values, needs, strengths, and goals; goal-setting
2) self-determination: advocating for one’s self and recognizing one’s ability to choose a path/goal and act accordingly – directness; competence in ability to achieve
3) self-regulation: monitoring, oversight, and modulation of behavior, emotion, and cognition in the service of meeting one’s goals; staying focused despite setbacks; stress management
Recent study publications at CYDI
Black adolescents' racial experiences and school support
It is all too common for Black Americans in higher education to find few peers and faculty who look like them. A few societal systems contribute to this uncomfortable reality. For example, Black students in the United States are more likely than their white counterparts to face suspension and expulsion from school for engaging in similar behaviors, contributing to the 'school-to-prison pipeline' and the disproportionate numbers of Black people in the US prison system. Black individuals also tend to have low socioeconomic status in the USA.
Experimental Therapeutics in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology: Identifying Mechanisms and Moving the Needle
The premise of experimental therapeutics is that one can (a) target a process, or mechanism, underlying psychopathology and (b) that change in said mechanism can cause clinical improvement. Targeting specific mechanisms may permit more effective and personalized medicine. The experimental therapeutics approach holds promise for improving the potency and efficiency of treatments for childhood psychopathology, and for advancing our understanding of the factors that both cause and sustain psychopathology.
Youth with Low Pre‑injury Mental Health Symptoms Are at a Higher Risk for Symptoms Following Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Brandon McCormick & Andrea Glenn
Concussions are common in children and adolescents and may be related to long-term mental health symptoms. However, many studies do not consider how pre-existing mental health system might influence the effects of concussions on mental health. In this study, we used data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods to examine this idea. We found that youth with lower levels of pre-existing mental health symptoms were at greater risk for increases in mental health symptoms following concussions compared to youth with higher pre-existing symptoms.
Association between lower-level of environmental lead exposure and reactive and proactive aggression in youth: Sex differences
Andrea L. Glenn, Yuli Li, and Jianghong Liu
Lead exposure during childhood has been associated with a variety of negative outcomes, including antisocial/aggressive behavior. The objective of this study was to examine relationships between childhood blood lead levels and proactive and reactive aggression. Further, sex differences were examined within these relationships. Results show that blood lead levels were associated with reactive but not proactive aggression. There was a significant interaction between lead level and sex in predicting aggression: boys with higher blood lead level were higher in both proactive and reactive aggression, but these differences were not present in girls. Therefore, lead exposure may have broad effects on antisocial behavior, but boys may be more susceptible than girls.
The Perceived Effects of the Onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Focus on Educators' Perceptions of the Negative Effects on Educator Stress & Student Well-Being
Catherine Bradshaw, Joseph Kush, Summer Braun, & Emily Kohler
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an urgent pivot to remote learning, causing many challenges for teachers and school administrators. The current study sought to better understand the extent to which the perceived negative impacts of COVID-19 on U.S. educators and their students varied as a function of staff role (teacher vs. administrator), school level (elementary vs. secondary school), and type of school setting (public vs. private), as reported through a national survey of educators conducted in June through July of 2020. Using data from 608 educators (n=481 teachers and n=127 administrators; 48% elementary; 85% public school), we examined educators’ perceptions of negative impacts on their personal lives, professional lives, and students’ lives; major challenges; and stress in various domains. Findings suggested an overall high level of concern across domains. Investigation of educator subgroup effects suggested elementary educators and administrators were most concerned about the negative impacts on students.
Emotion regulation and executive function: Association with depression and anxiety in autism
Caitlin M. Conner, Rebecca Elias, Isaac C. Smith, & Susan W. White
Adolescents and young adults with ASD often experience co-occuring mental health conditions such as mood or anxiety problems, as well as impairments in emotion regulation and executive functioning. However, little research has examined inter-relationships among these constructs. This study aimed to examine whether executive functioning impairment, above and beyond emotion regulation impairment, were associated with depression and anxiety symptoms. Results suggest that ASD characteristics, emotion regulation, anxiety, and depression were significantly correlated. Emotion regulation impairments were significant contributors to anxiety and depression. Inhibition difficulties did not uniquely contribute to depression or anxiety above and beyond emotion regulation impairment. Difficulties in cognitive flexibility were associated with depression above and beyond other factors, but not associated with anxiety. Therefore, improving emotion regulation may have broader transdiagnostic impact across both mood and anxiety symptoms in ASD.
Profiles of teachers’ occupational health: Associations with classroom management practices, gender, and race
Summer Braun, Chelsea Kaihoi, Heather McDaniel, & Catherine Bradshaw
This study examined teachers’ occupational health, measured by feelings of job stress, burnout, and teaching self-efficacy. Results from 516 teachers indicated that there were four profiles of teachers: lowest occupational health (17% of the sample), low-to-mid occupational health/mid self-efficacy (38%), mid-to-high occupational health/mid-self-efficacy (30%), and highest (15%) occupational health. Proactive behavior management practices were observed less frequently for teachers in the lowest (vs. highest) occupational health profile. White female teachers were associated with profiles of low occupational health more than White male teachers, and male and female teachers of color. Findings offer insight into the consequences of poor occupational health along with who may be at risk for experiences of poor occupational health.
CYDI Fall Highlights
Members of Dr. Susan White's Lab presented research at the Annual Convention for the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies in New York City
Dr. Susan White's Lab had a fun night out bowling!
Both CYDI undergraduate & graduate students presented conference posters about current projects
Dr. Summer Braun, who is a one of the CASEL Weissberg Scholars, participated in the CASEL’s SEL Exchange in Chicago
Members of Dr. Andrea Glenn's Lab presented research at a conference in Atlanta
Congratulations to Dr. Susan White for her Outstanding Mentor Award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies!
Her mentorship award is very well earned & she is very much appreciated by both current & former students