This interview discusses just what development means and how the Developmental, Individual Difference, Relationship-based Model (DIR) provides the interventions where different disciplines working together can deepen the therapeutic process and outcomes of people on the autism spectrum as they accompany the journey of families and individuals in clinics, homes and school settings. We discussed the history, theory, and research and highlighted the essential role of play in promoting emotional and cognitive capacities as well as why symbolic play is used in the treatment of developmental differences, trauma and mental health. New Medicaid coverage for DIR services and the implications of this exciting new development also discussed.
It was my great pleasure to award Dr. Elizabeth Torres with the Murray G. Osgood Innovation Award at Celebrate the Children's virtual 2021 Let’s Play Gala.
Dr. Torres is a true pioneer in the field of research and she puts the science behind the work we do every day. Dr. Torres not only a highly respected researcher, but she is also a huge advocate of presuming competence and recognizing the true intellectual capacities of people with autism. I have had the distinct privilege to work with her on multiple visits to CTC and also reaching a global audience through her gracious work speaking at Profectum conferences.
About Elizabeth Torres, PhD
Dr. Torres is a Computational Neuroscientist who has been working on theoretical and empirical aspects of sensory motor integration and human cognition since the late 90’s. She graduated from Mathematics and Computer Science and before joining the UCSD PhD program, she spent a year at the National Institute of Aging, NIH as a Pre-IRTA fellow, applying her skill set to the development of computational models of cognition for use in the field of geriatrics. Under the NIH-Pre-doctoral-fellowship, she completed graduate work with a focus on Applied mathematics to Neuro-Motor Control models in the field of Cognitive Science. She moved to CALTECH for postdoctoral training in electrophysiology and Computational Neural Systems, where she was a Sloan-Swartz Fellow, a Della Martin Fellow and a Neuroscience Scholar.
She joined the Rutgers Psychology faculty, the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science and the Center for Computational Biomedicine Imaging and Modelling of the Computer Science Dept. in 2008. There she initiated the path of interdisciplinary collaboration and attained tenure. Since 2009, her lab has brought to Rutgers over 8 Million research dollars from Federal, State and Private funds and multiple patents in the areas of digital biomarkers with applications to personalized mobile-smart Health. She has written two books on autism and biometrics, and currently serves as the Principal Investigator and Director of the New Jersey Autism Center of Excellence leading major initiatives to help transform autism medical research and treatments across the state.
Monica Osgood has worked with individuals on the autism spectrum and their families for over 30 years. She is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Celebrate the Children (CTC) School in Denville, NJ. Monica is also the Executive Director and a Founding member of the Profectum Foundation and Limitless.