ASD Nest to Partner with Self-Advocates to Further High School Model

NYU Steinhardt’s ASD Nest Support Project was awarded $50,000 by the FAR Fund to further the program’s High School Model. The ASD Support Project is part of the larger ASD Nest NYC Department of Education program, which aims to advance the development and implementation of educational solutions for students with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Support Project provides training, school support, workshops, and consultation for teachers, parents, and related service providers who work in the ASD Nest Program. The program has been extensively developed at the elementary and middle school levels in schools that support children with ASD, but seeks to develop more reach at the high school level.

Under the direction of principal investigators Kristie Patten Koenig, Ph.D., OT/L, FAOTA, and associate professor and department chair at NYU’s Department of Occupational Therapy, the high school model, “Oh the Places Students with ASD Can GO,” will be expanded. It will feature input and collaboration with self-advocates who will speak at all ASD Nest High Schools to motivate students and faculty alike. These self-advocates will present on their experiences and how they have used their strengths and interests as an inspiration to the students in participating high schools. The fully implementable model will be available for roll out for Academic Year 2016-2017. Congratulations, Kristie!


Computerized Cognitive Training Game for Executive Abilities

Gerald Voelbel, associate professor of Occupational Therapy has received a 2015 Innovative, Development, Exploratory Awards (IDEAs) to study the effects of a gamified computerized cognitive training program for healthy adults, as well as adults who have suffered a traumatic brain injury. Approximately 1.5 million people sustain a TBI each year, and approximately 5.3 million people are living with a disability as a result of TBI. The study has two specific aims: 1) To test the hypothesis that the use of the computerized cognitive training program, Space Ranger Alien Quest, can improve executive functions with a sample of healthy adults; and 2) To test the hypothesis that executive functions can be remediated with the Space Ranger Alien Quest in adults with a TBI. The study will examine the training effects of switching between tasks, and therefore it may have benefits for all adults.

The study is a collaboration between Voelbel and Jan Plass, Ph.D., NYU Steinhardt’s Paulette Goddard Chair in Digital Media and Learning Sciences and Director for the Center for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technologies in Education (CREATE). The ultimate goal is to collect pilot data that will lead to a line of cognitive intervention research amongst the collaborators that will target executive functions in neurological populations. The results of the data collected will be presented at educational, psychological, and neurocognitive conferences, and will be published in peer-reviewed journals. Congratulations, Jerry!