The double-edged sword of autism spectrum disorders

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The double-edged sword of autism spectrum disorders

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Some of the more troublesome symptoms of Autism are actually more like double-edged swords. For example, a lot of children with Autism have amazing memories. They may not always remember exactly what we want them to remember, but they are able to recall an amazing amount of information. They are also able to focus on specific areas. For example, a child may be interested in Meteorology or robotics, or something like that. That can be problematic at home if the child is not able to transition away from their interests in order to come and have dinner. It might also lead to a future career path. The ability to hyperfocus and be completely immersed in a specific area, is the development of expertise. That can be a double-edged sword, where it may be a problem in early childhood, but later on in that child's life, it could prove to be a career path for them.

Watch Video: The double-edged sword of autism spectrum disorders by Allison Kawa, PsyD, ...

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Allison Kawa, PsyD

Child Psychologist

Alison Kawa is a licensed child psychologist specializing in the evaluation of children and adolescents.  Her pre- and post-doctoral training emphasized child and adolescent testing.  She was a fellow in the UCLA Autism Evaluation Clinic where she acquired extensive training in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders and a range of other developmental disorders.  During this time, she also obtained certification from the University of Michigan Autism and Communication Disorders Center (UMACC) on the gold standard instruments (i.e., ADI-R and ADOS) used in autism evaluations.  Following her fellowship, she became Senior Assessor at UCLA where she worked for four years.

Alison completed the PsychoEducational Diagnostic Services Program (PEDS) Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Pediatric Assessment at the Reiss Davis Child Study Center at Vista Del Mar.  In this setting, she conducted comprehensive psychoeducational evaluations for children and adolescents with a diverse range of issues including ADHD, Learning Disabilities, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders.  She also completed the Child Therapy in a School Setting program offered by Phillips Graduate Institute, where she gained training and experience in play therapy, social skills groups, and therapeutic interventions appropriate for adolescents. 

While completing her graduate training in psychology, she held a staff position at Working With Autism, Inc., where she worked individually with children with autism, provided case management and supervision, and developed and implemented a staff-training curriculum.  It was through this position that she acquired a love for teaching and training. In addition to her private practice, she teaches pre- and post-doctoral fellows at the Reiss Davis Child Study Center at Vista Del Mar, where she also works as a supervisor and consultant.

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