Many individuals with autism live with significant motor challenges that inhibit their ability to accurately express their ideas and emotions. These motor differences affect both the functional use of one’s body and often the ability to communicate. Imagine not having control over your own body, much less the world around you! Virtual Reality (VR) programs allow students to control their environment with slight movements of their heads, which can be incredibly empowering for people on the spectrum. Spending time in the virtual world where they feel competent reduces anxiety and builds confidence. At Celebrate the Children school (CTC), the staff uses their relationships with the students to create feelings of environmental and emotional comfort around using VR. Currently, we are using VR as a means of working on functional communication for some of our students.
VR programs like Floreo are a gift to individuals with autism and related differences. Exposing students to new experiences, challenges, and scenarios in a controlled and safe setting with the support of someone nearby helps provide the emotional foundations needed to maximize progress and, yes, navigate the real world.
It's been a pleasure working with Vijay and his team, and we were honored to host one of the early pilot programs at Celebrate the Children and contribute to articles such as this.
Floreo’s vision is a world that is open and accessible for every neurodiverse person. It is their mission is to create the first behavioral therapy metaverse, a virtual world that is safe for learners, equipping them with skills and tools they can apply in their everyday lives. Floreo has developed a VR platform that teaches social, behavioral, communication and life skills for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD, Anxiety and other neurodiverse conditions.
To learn more about Floreo, please visit https://www.floreotech.com/.
"Ask the Expert"
It's always a pleasure speaking with Jessie Frees at WMTR Radio! I was honored to speak alongside Stephanie Flamini from Autism New Jersey on WMTR's "Ask the Expert" show on Autism Awareness this month. Listen to the recording here.
Award winning veteran New Jersey Broadcaster Jessie Frees has hosted numerous radio shows and has interviewed thousands of notable guests in her 37 year career. She hosts the interactive live call – in talk shows, “Ask the Expert” and “Your New Jersey Connection” on WMTR. A children’s author, she is a mother of 3 and grandmother of 8. A political analyst and writer, she guest lectures around the state.
I’m not sure who enjoys these conversations more - our conference attendees, the young adult panelists, or me. I’ve known these individuals for decades and to say I’m proud of all they’ve accomplished and continue to accomplish is an understatement.
These amazing autistic adults not only advocate for themselves and others daily, but they also contribute to local, national, and international learning events and provide first-hand insights into the experiences of people growing up with ASD. They reflect on how they were prepared and explain capacities and skills they wish they had (or wish were stronger). But most importantly, they provide suggestions for what we can do now to help adults. Equally as important, what can we do in the early stages of development to foster success for people with ASD in the 21st century.
I’m thrilled to team up with this group for Profectum’s upcoming virtual Educators Conference next week. This year, they will use Dr. Temple Grandin’s new book, Navigating Autism: 9 Mindsets For Helping Kids on the Spectrum, as an inspiration for their talk.
Like Dr. Grandin’s book, this conference will provide educators, clinicians, paraprofessionals, parents - anyone interacting with individuals with autism and special needs - with practical tools and strategies to help support individual profiles, understand behaviors, foster social, emotional, and cognitive growth, independence, working with teams, and ethics for respecting, communicating, and working with families.
I hope you’ll consider joining me, our incredible autistic adult panelists, and the many talented paraprofessionals, educators, professionals, parents, and autistic advocates presenting at Profectum’s 3rd Annual Educators Conference next week on November 4th and 5th.
For more information, please visit: https://profectum.org/profectum-educators-conference-2021/
P.S. - Be sure to watch through the Bloopers! ;)
"April was “Autism Awareness Month” and in its recognition, messages were issued by Mayor Tom Andes, Police Chief Frank Perna and parents of the township’s “Celebrate The Children” School." Read more
Read the full article here.
During a pandemic like this, we are adapting to many changes. One of them is about parenting patterns and how the child's education system has changed. As parents and teachers, we must have a strategy to support the children's learning process both at home and at school. It was a pleasure speaking at the Online Parenting Seminar (SPO), with the JCDC, and presenting a two-part series: "Supporting Parent in Working with Their Children at Home and School (Online) and Preparing Onsite School Later for Children."
Part One: Parenting Online - May 7, 2021
Access Passcode: B3TJ1G?a
Part Two: Supporting Parents in Working with Their Children (Online and Offline School) - May 21, 2021
Access Passcode: pkhEu%m2
If you’re raising a strong-willed child, you likely experience so many emotions, daily: you love your kid. You want the world for them. It’s just that their out-of-control behavior can be so overwhelming and frustrating. You simultaneously want to connect with your child and dread your time together. (It’s ok. I promise!)
My friend Sonali Vongchusiri is on a mission to help you reconnect with your child and really understand what’s going on.
For the third year, she’s hosted a FREE online interview series, featuring me and over 20 other experts, Raising Your Strong-Willed Child: How to give up the guilt, step out of overwhelm, and rediscover the joy in parenting.
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.
I met Dr. Barbara Stroud at our Profectum Immersion Experience in California this year - and I’m so thankful I did. Dr. Stroud is dedicated to her mission of ‘changing the world – one relationship at a time’ – and that’s something we are both very passionate about.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Barbara Stroud, to discuss the “Profectum Parent Toolbox” (PPT) – a FREE tool that helps parents, educators, and providers gain a greater understanding of the uniqueness of their child, and how they can better connect and foster relationships as a foundation for enhanced developmental growth. This online resource consists of 37 Webcasts that demonstrate strategies to mobilize a child’s relationship-based interactions. Dr. Stroud wanted to ensure her audience had both the knowledge and access to this invaluable tool.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to share the Profectum Parent Toolbox with Dr. Stroud’s community.
Thank you, Dr. Stroud!
About Dr. Barbara Stroud
Barbara Stroud, PhD, is a licensed psychologist with over three decades worth of culturally informed clinical practice in early childhood development and mental health. She is a founding organizer and the inaugural president (2017-2019) of the California Association for Infant Mental Health, a member of the Academy of ZERO TO THREE Fellows, and holds prestigious endorsements as an Infant and Family Mental Health Specialist/Reflective Practice Facilitator Mentor.
Dr. Stroud’s book “How to Measure a Relationship” [published 2012] is improving infant mental health practices around the globe. Her newest text, an Amazon best seller “Intentional Living: finding the inner peace to create successful relationships” walks the reader through a deeper understanding of how their brain influences relationships. Additionally, Dr. Stroud is a contributing author to the text “Infant and early childhood mental health: Core concepts and clinical practice” edited by Kristie Brandt, Bruce Perry, Steve Seligman, & Ed Tronick.
Dr. Stroud works closely with professionals across multiple disciplines. As Dr. Stroud is particularly passionate about the unique needs of children of color in the mental health and foster care systems, she has continually worked to infuse reflective practice and cultural humility into her trainings, consultation, and service delivery.
About the Profectum Parent Toolbox (PPT)
The goal of the Profectum Parent Toolbox is to encourage and empower you to build a strong relationship with your child while fostering his or her development. The PPT will guide you in your discovery of your child’s unique sensory and motor differences that are the foundation of how he or she experiences the world and ultimately interacts with you. With a new understanding of your child’s individual strengths and challenges the PPT will help you match Profectum Toolbox Strategies to your child’s needs to support his or her engaging, playing and interacting, thinking and communicating with you. Your Profectum Parent Toolbox™ authors have been working together collaboratively for 20+ years and this program is a culmination of their experiences with families they would like to share with you.
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.