Russell Lang has been awarded a post-doctorate position at the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Asperger Center at UC Santa Barbara. The Broad Center, established within the acclaimed Koegel Autism Center, develops and refines the Koegel’s research-based model for intervention and support for children and adults with Asperger’s Syndrome. The Center conducts research and intervention with the purpose of developing a model that can be disseminated nationally, and is moving toward the long-term goal of becoming the largest and most comprehensive clearinghouse in the world on intervention for Asperger’s Syndrome.
Russell Lang graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Ph.D. in Special Education and an emphasis in autism and developmental disabilities. He is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with a decade of clinical work as a behavior specialist within the school systems and community service agencies. His previous research has focused on the treatment of challenging behavior and teaching play and communication behavior to individuals with developmental disabilities. Lang has published over 20 peer reviewed research papers and several book chapters on these topics. Lang says, “I am very excited to join the UCSB team and am looking forward to working with his new colleagues.”
It is estimated that one in every 500 children has Asperger’s Disorder or High Functioning Autism. Children with this type of autism demonstrate difficulties with social communication. In spite of having very high levels of intelligence and exceptional abilities in narrow areas (usually music, m ath or art), they typically have difficulties with eye contact, peer relationships, sharing emotions with others, and are often inflexible in their routines or patterns of behaviors. At the same time, because children with Asperger’s generally do not have delays in language development or significant clinical delays in cognitive development and self-help skills, they are often misdiagnosed or untreated. They can end up isolated as adults, and may develop severe depression.
Without specialized interventions the social difficulties of children with Asperger’s Disorder often result in problems in adulthood such as depression, few or no friends, lack of recreational activities, and difficulties with higher education and employment. This is ironic because the individuals’ intellectual abilities are often extremely high, suggesting they have the potential to become some of the most productive members of society if their potential could be “unlocked.”
[Russell Lang is available for interviews; contact George Yatchisin at 805 893 5789]
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