Marjorie Charlop-Christy Joins National Autism Center Advisory Board

Marjorie Charlop-Christy, director of The Claremont Autism Center at Claremont McKenna College, recently joined the Professional Advisory Board of the National Autism Center (http://www.nationalautismcenter.org/index.html), a group of about 20 autism experts in the country, providing leadership and comprehensive evidence-based resources to families and practitioners, programs and organizations, and the national community. An immediate Board goal is to publish standardsusing only empirically investigated and supported behavioral interventionsthat can be used as a recognized outline when certifying autism treatment programs.

Founded in 1984, The Claremont Autism Center, located in Seaman Hall, continues to increase its sphere of influence as the only autism center in the country housed within a liberal arts college, and one of the few conducting both treatment and research. (Read more: http://www.claremontmckenna.edu/news/cmcmagazine/2001summer/autism/). Charlop-Christy, who has been involved in researching autism for more than three decades, also will spend part of the fall semester traveling across the country and Canada to conduct workshops on video modeling, a technique used by special education educators, parents, and undergraduate therapists to teach children with autism.

Research supports that autistic children tend to focus better on visual images, making video modeling a more salient way to zoom in on exact behaviors that need to be learnedsuch as brushing one’s teeth or bathingsince images are consistent when replayed for the child. By comparison, behaviors role-played by adults, spontaneously, are prone to subtle changes that may confuse autistic children.

Charlop-Christy says her workshops will provide parameters for making videos, but that, ultimately, “there are no recipe books for treating a child with autism, and each procedure must be tweaked and tailored to the individual child.”

Also in the works for Charlop-Christy is a book for Pro-Ed, Inc., tentatively titled How to Use Incidental Teaching for Children With Autism and Other Related Disorders. She also is developing, in collaboration with Professor Gondy Leroy at Claremont Graduate University, a communication device for non-verbal children with autism.