Do you want to help make a miracle?
Dr. Mazefsky first became interested in autism as an undergraduate psychology major at The College of William & Mary. Having completed an honors research thesis on schizophrenia and loving the experience, she knew she wanted to go to graduate school for clinical psychology. As she was looking for opportunities to gain clinical experience, she came upon a flier of an adorable brown-haired boy with big, bright blue eyes that said, “Do you want to help make a miracle?” She responded to the flier and shortly thereafter began her exciting journey providing Applied Behavior Analysis therapy to an 8-year-old nonverbal boy with autism. Ever since, she has been dedicated to research and clinical care for people with autism, continually inspired by all of the children and adults with autism and their family members who she has been fortunate enough to get to know along the way.
The mission of the Pittsburgh REAACT Research Program is to enhance quality of life for individuals with ASD by working to understand and improve emotion regulation. Although other symptoms might come to mind first when people think of autism, emotion regulation is something that touches every aspect of the lives of people with autism and their family members. Emotion regulation refers to the broad set of processes responsible for modifying emotional reactions. When emotion regulation is impaired, it gets in the way of school performance, social interactions, and the ability to find and maintain work, and it increases parent stress. We believe that impaired emotion regulation is also one of the primary mechanisms underlying problematic behavior such as aggression as well as the high rates of co-occurring psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression in ASD. Thus, by improving understanding of how and why emotion regulation in impaired in ASD, how to measure it in a way that is sensitive to change, and how to improve it, we believe we have the potential to substantially improve overall outcomes for those with ASD.
The Pittsburgh REAACT Research Program is supported by public funding from the federal and state government, as well as private supporters. We accept provide donations to further our mission of improving quality of life for those with ASD and their family members. If you wish to consider supporting The Autism Research Program, please make checks payable to “The University of Pittsburgh” and send them to:The REAACT Research Program
Center for Excellence in Autism Research
3811 O’Hara Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15213