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Special interests can be assets, not hindrances, for youth with autism

Jan. 15, 2021 Kerri Nowell, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Health Psychology and a pediatric clinical psychologist at the MU Thompson Center, together with colleagues Stephen Kanne, Cynthia Brown and Courtney Jorgenson, developed the survey for caregivers of youth with autism to assess various special interests they may have and determine if those special interests were interfering with the child’s development. After analyzing nearly 2,000 responses, in addition to possible reductions of anxiety and improvements of mental health, Nowell found that many caregivers also recognize the child’s special interests as outlets that can potentially benefit them in social interactions or future employment and educational opportunities.

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