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Kristen Gillespie-Lynch
Position: Assistant Professor
Campus Affiliation: College of Staten Island
Degrees/Diplomas: Ph. D., University of California, Los Angeles
Training Area: Developmental Psychology
Research Interests: Autism; symbol formation; communicative gestures; comparative psychology
Using a combination of behavioral observations, eye-tracking, surveys and standardized measures, I study strengths and weaknesses associated with autism spectrum disorders across the lifespan. I have examined concurrent and longitudinal relations between early social and non-social attention and subsequent autistic symptomatology and linguistic and adaptive skills. Through an online survey, my collaborators and I discovered that individuals on the autism spectrum and people aware of the neurodiversity movement (an autism rights movement) are less interested in finding a cure for autism than people without autism and people who are not aware of the neurodiversity movement. Thus, the majority of autism research currently conducted in the United States may not reflect the research interests of many people on the autism spectrum. However, individuals on and off the spectrum who participated in our study shared an interest in helping people on the spectrum gain adaptive skills and independence. We also found that people on the spectrum found computer-mediated-communication uniquely beneficial relative to those without autism. Thus, my current research focuses on technology-based and in-person supports for college students with ASD, including the use of technology to increase others' understanding of autism.