Associate Research Scientist in the Child Study Center; Clinical Nurse Specialist in Psychiatry; Director, Initiative for Girls and Women with Autism Spectrum Disorders
SELF for Girls and Women on the Autism Spectrum
SELF, a social and recreational program for girls and women with autism spectrum disorders supported by a gift from the MJS Foundation as well as other donors, closed its doors in 2023 after 12 years offering wonderful programs to the greater New Haven community. The program (formerly titled The Initiative for Girls and Women with Autism Spectrum Disorders), worked to address the unique needs of girls and women with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs).
Over the last 15 years, ASD interventionists and researchers have begun to appreciate that the development of socialization and communication processes for girls and women is quite different from that of boys and men. Unfortunately, the research and intervention implications of these differences have not been systematically addressed for girls and women with ASDs.
SELF was designed to address those communication and socialization differences through recreational and communal activities. These activities, which included art classes, yoga, hiking, photography, crafts, movie and pizza nights, horseback riding, ceramics, and others, allowed participants to pursue their particular interests and leisure activities in a safe and supportive environment. It has been an honor to work with the community to offer these activities.