Experts at Drexel University are available to comment for news stories about autism for Autism Awareness Month in April and throughout the year. The University’s A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, focused on a public health science approach to autism, continues to grow and add expertise in critical areas including life course outcomes and employment for adults on the autism spectrum.
Areas of expertise include:
Challenges facing young adults on the autism spectrum as they transition out of education-based services
Paul Shattuck, PhD, an associate professor and leader of the research program area in life course outcomes in the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, performs research aimed at understanding services and related outcomes among youth with autism as they leave high school and transition to young adulthood.
Availability note for news media: For the 2013-2014 academic year, Shattuck has only limited on-site availability at Drexel in Philadelphia. He is generally available for phone, email or Skype interviews or via satellite uplink from St. Louis.
Genetic and environmental risk factors for autism spectrum disorders
Craig J. Newschaffer, PhD, director of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute and a professor in Drexel’s School of Public Health, is an epidemiologist focused on the discovery of modifiable autism risk factors. He directs the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI), an NIH Autism Center of Excellence project following a cohort of mothers of children with autism at the start of subsequent pregnancies in order to reveal environmental and genetic risk factors for autism.
Dissemination of best practices in autism screening and interventions to underserved communities
James E. Connell Jr., PhD, the clinical director and a research fellow of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute and an associate professor in Drexel’s School of Education, is a nationally and state certified school psychologist, and a board certified behavior analyst. His work focuses on identifying the variables that influence adult behavior change in community settings. Research projects at Drexel focus on the widespread dissemination of evidence-based interventions in school and community settings.
Surveillance and census of ASD populations and their use of social services
Lindsay Shea, senior manager of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, directs the eastern region of Pennsylvania’s Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training (ASERT) Collaborative. She is the lead author of the state’s autism census, an in-depth, comprehensive survey of the population of individuals with autism spectrum disorders, quantifying the demographics of the population and the public social services that they use. A 2014 update to the census with data from 2011 is forthcoming.
Social services and employment for individuals on the autism spectrum
Multiple experts from the A.J. Drexel Autism institute can discuss aspects of social services gaps and employment challenges for adults on the autism spectrum. Shattuck, Connell and Newschaffer can discuss this topic.
Accessibility of the health-care system for patients on the autism spectrum
Ellen Giarelli, EdD, an associate professor in Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions is an advanced-practice nurse with extensive research experience. Giarelli emphasizes care for autism across the lifespan, including needs of individuals on the autism spectrum when seen in health-care settings for routine and emergency care unrelated to the autism diagnosis. She is editor of Nursing of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Evidence-based Integrated Care across the Lifespan (Springer, 2012). With the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Giarelli is planning for a conference at Drexel on November 8, 2014 for health practitioners to discuss issues of care for patients on the autism spectrum in health care settings.
Risk communication for autism spectrum disorders
Michael Yudell, PhD, an associate professor in the School of Public Health, is a researcher in the fields of ethics, genomics and history of public health. His work in autism spectrum disorders focuses on the history, risk communication and ethics of autism spectrum disorders. He recently received a grant from Autism Speaks to study risk communication in autism spectrum disorders.
History of autism spectrum disorders in society
Chloe Silverman, PhD, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and member of the Center for Science, Technology & Society, studies the role of emotions and of “expert” and “lay” knowledge in social movements around disease. Her book, Understanding Autism: Parents, Doctors and the History of a Disorder (Princeton University Press, 2011) traces the history of autism spectrum disorders and examines the role of parental knowledge in driving scientific research. The book is newly available in an audiobook edition in spring 2014.
In addition to Silverman, Yudell is a historian of science who is writing a book about the history of autism, and can comment on this topic.
***Drexel has more autism experts in addition to those listed above. Members of the news media interested in scheduling an interview with any of Drexel’s autism experts may contact the Drexel University Office of University Communications at 215-895-2614 or firstname.lastname@example.org. ***