Raleigh, NC, April 30, 2018
Audrey Shen was just twelve years old when her niece, Melanie, was diagnosed with autism. Melanie was the first person she knew with autism and since then she has had first-hand knowledge of the challenges her older sister and family have experienced in raising Melanie. Audrey had a unique gift in interacting with Melanie as she was one of the few people who could make her niece laugh and smile. That connection became evident as Audrey turned her passion to help others with autism into a life-long profession.
Our Staff Spotlight highlights Audrey this month during Autism Awareness Month. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and she joined the Easterseals UCP Autism Team in January 2017 to become Director of Autism Services in Raleigh. She is part of a growing team providing comprehensive one-on-one Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) treatment services to individuals with autism, both in-home and at our three centers in Raleigh, Wilmington and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Audrey said, “The primary focus of our Autism Program at Easterseals UCP is helping individuals with autism to develop skills to live a more inclusive and rewarding life.”
Recently, Easterseals UCP started a partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) to conduct a nationwide neuroimaging study of school-age children with autism. The five-year study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) will expand on the Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS). For the past several years, babies at high or low risk for autism have been studied at UNC with MRI scans to track their early brain development. Under this new phase of the study led by Dr. Joe Piven at the UNC-Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD), those same children will return for an MRI scan between 7-10 of age. Historically, severely affected children with autism were excluded from such MRI scans due to the challenges of lying still during the scan.
This is where Audrey and the Easterseals UCP team comes in. Audrey has developed and published methods to help children through the MRI scan by using social stories, visuals and other ABA techniques. In the new partnership, Audrey will train the IBIS teams at four universities across the U.S. to prepare children with autism for successful scans. Audrey’s husband, Mark Shen, is a professor at UNC and one of the IBIS researchers. The couple presented their research at the North Carolina ABA conference titled, “How ABA is Improving Neuroscience Research of Autism by Including Individuals with Severe Autism.”
“Our Autism Services program, along with this new partnership, are two examples of how Easterseals UCP has become an innovator in creating solutions and lifting barriers to help each child receive the treatment they need and deserve. I am honored to work for an organization that gives me the opportunity to bring hope to families,” said Audrey.
Learn more about Autism Services at Easterseals UCP.ABOUT EASTERSEALS UCPEasterseals UCP works side-by-side with adults and children who are managing disabilities and mental health challenges. We serve as a nurse, a therapist, a social worker, a job counselor, a teacher, a psychologist, a caregiver and a compassionate friend all rolled into one. Our purpose is to help neighbors in need achieve better days and live their best possible life.
Learn more about Easterseals UCP at www.eastersealsucp.com.For more information contact:Kathy EdgertonEasterseals UCP Chief Communications OfficerKathy.Edgerton@eastersealsucp.com(O) 919-865-8660(C) 919-208-0621