Video Interview: Groundbreaking Autism Research

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OTs at Thomas Jefferson University are hard at work deciphering the puzzle of autism

Occupational therapists strive to provide evidence-based practice to all their clients. For this ideal to become a reality, dedicated researchers with experience in the field are required to conduct studies on cutting-edge information.

Roseann Schaaf, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is a professor and chair of the department of occupational therapy at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and faculty for Farber Institute for Neurosciences at Thomas Jefferson University. She has worked in occupational therapy for over 30 years and has been researching the effectiveness of occupational therapy using sensory integration for children with autism.

Schaaf is currently conducting this research and training occupational therapists to treat this patient population. Her team includes members of Albert Einstein College of Medicine: occupational therapy coordinator Elizabeth Ridgway, OTD, and neuroscientists Sofie Molholm, PhD, and Jon Foxe, PhD. Molholm and Foxe oversee the multisensory integration EEG paradigm. The team is in the second year of a five-year study.

“Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, and it’s present before birth. People who have autism process information differently,” Schaaf said. “The approach that sensory integration takes, or that most of occupational therapy takes, is that we identify what challenges the child has in their daily activities.”

View our exclusive video Q&A with Schaaf below.  And for our corresponding cover story on Schaaf’s research, read the December 2016 issue of ADVANCE.

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