Trinity Professor's Personal & Professional Skills Result in New Resource for Parents

Trinity College Professor, Molly Helt, has co-authored an activity book for early treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders.  While she is a Hartford researcher - recently looking at whether there's a link between maternal estrogen and autism risk - she is also the mother of a son with the developmental disorder. 

From a Press Release:

The Activity Kit for Babies and Toddlers at Risk: How to Use Everyday Routines to Build Social and Communication Skills (The Guilford Press, 2016) shows families – in easy-to-understand terms – how to support their child’s development by incorporating scientific principles into their day-to-day lives, even before receiving an official ASD diagnosis.

“I’m the parent of a child with autism, and parents are told to give their children up to 40 hours of intervention a week,” Helt said of her own experience with her oldest child. “So what I found myself doing was adapting a lot of applied behavioral analysis programs to daily routines like bathing, changing, feeding, or going to the playground.”

Concern for her second child led Helt to look into early intervention techniques for children who are considered “at risk.” She knew that children who have an older sibling with autism have a roughly 20 percent chance of developing autism, but she could not find much information about parenting at-risk children. “Autism is something we can’t diagnose until 18 months at the earliest, and I couldn’t just sit around for 18 months and do nothing,” Helt said. “These are crucial months in which a child’s brain is the most plastic and developing the most quickly.”

Helt and her co-authors researched typical development and ASD treatment programs, and adapted those concepts for families with young children who may have ASD  or who may be at risk  to use anytime, anyplace. The book’s introduction, says, in part, “From the moment your child wakes up to the time she goes to bed, you have many opportunities to build language, social skills, imitation, and pretend play. This book contains games to play while you dress your child, rhymes and songs to use during mealtimes and chores, ways to enrich development and learning during play and errands, and more.”

“It’s basically all about getting autism therapy into your day-to-day life,” Helt said. “I hope this book serves as a ‘how-to’ on how to do early intervention yourself.” She plans to test this program as part of her ongoing research at Trinity.

Click here to check out the book on

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