Michelle Rowe, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support, Chair, Interdisciplinary Health Services

Areas Taught: Interdisciplinary Health Services

Expertise: Autism Spectrum Disorders, Stress, Burnout and Coping

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"Individuals affected by autism are like snowflakes," says Michelle Rowe, Ph.D., professor and chair of interdisciplinary health services (IHS). "No two are alike."

Dr. Rowe seeks to increase understanding of the complexities of the disease. The Kinney Center, with its roots in the Jesuit mission of service and cura personalis, or care for the whole person, is addressing the needs of those who struggle day-to-day with autism, either as individuals or caregivers.

"The most common misconception about individuals with autism is that they spend their days memorizing train schedules and staring at spinning objects," she says. "That just isn't the reality."

Here's the reality: one in 110 children in the United States has been diagnosed; one in 71 boys; ten percent of all eight-year-olds. The alarming numbers continues to climb.

But Dr. Rowe says the research is promising and has practical advice for parents of children with autism. She credits early diagnosis and early intervention as among the most significant breakthroughs in autism research, noting that both can help affected children reach their full potential.

"The timing of early intervention occurs during one of the most critical periods of brain development," she explains. "In the first several years of life the brain develops rapidly, is very malleable, and, in many cases, is able to compensate for areas that are not working properly."

Dr. Rowe's work in the field of autism spectrum disorders have been published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine and the American Journal of Health Behavior.