An archive of all RCAAS-related news, from Rutgers University publications (i.e., Rutgers Today and Rutgers Magazine), research publications, and more!

9.21
Amy Gravino was diagnosed at age 11 as being on the autism spectrum.  It was decades ago, when, she said, the word didn’t mean much. She was teased by classmates and told by a school official that she would never graduate high school, let alone college.  “I only knew that I was different, and different was not acceptable as the world was frequently sure to let me know. At every turn I had people telling me who I was,’’ Gravino said Wednesday during the dedication ceremony for the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services (RCAAS), a facility that opened on the... read more
7.21
This week, Amy Gravino, RCAAS Relationship Coach, joins the podcast Autism Weekly to discuss dating and relationship maintenance on the autism spectrum. Amy also covers "the importance of sex ed and how parents can start the conversation with their teens."    Listen to the podcast here:
7.21
The July issue of the Gazette features the newest accomplishments of RCAAS Co-Director of Research, SungWoo Kahng, Ph.D. Dr. Kahng was recently named the President of the Board of Directors of the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board (BACB) and received a $50,000 grant from the New Jersey Governor's Council of Medical Research and Treatment of Autism for his research at the University.  Read the issue here:
6.21
In this half-hour conversation with Dr. Ronit Molko of the Illuminare Podcast, Amy Gravino, RCAAS Relationship Coach, shares her insight surrounding women, sexuality, and autism as an autism sexuality advocate. Amy "discusses the importance of comprehensive sexual education for those on the autism spectrum and how sex can and should play a role in those with autism reclaiming their independence." Listen to the podcast here:
9.21
Amy Gravino was diagnosed at age 11 as being on the autism spectrum.  It was decades ago, when, she said, the word didn’t mean much. She was teased by classmates and told by a school official that she would never graduate high school, let alone college.  “I only knew that I was different, and different was not acceptable as the world was frequently sure to let me know. At every turn I had people telling me who I was,’’ Gravino said Wednesday during the dedication ceremony for the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services (RCAAS), a facility that opened on the Douglass campus earlier this year... read more
4.21
The Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services (RCAAS), a center within the Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP), researches and finds ways to support adults on the autism spectrum by "...providing assistance and support in all aspects of participants' lives," which is achieved through the programs RCAAS has available.  Dr. Christopher Manente, executive director of RCAAS, shared some highlights about the RCAAS, the Center's progress, and future program development. The Center works to identify and share best practices for meeting the needs of individuals who... read more
4.21
The Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services (RCAAS), a unit of GSAPP since its inception in 2016, is thrilled to be featured in Rutgers Today! The article focuses on the opening of our new community center, a welcoming space for the entire Rutgers and local community, not just adults with autism. According to RCAAS Executive Director, Christopher Manente, PhD, BCBA, “There is no other university program as comprehensive and ambitious in terms of focusing on the success of adults on the autism spectrum in a multifaceted way. We hope this community center will serve as a model for other... read more
12.20
To be able to enrich the ability of autistic adults to navigate life’s challenges and to have career opportunities available to this sector of the population means changing the course of research, offering life skills training, clinical needs, and education. A pioneering approach to supporting autistic adults is underway at Rutgers, and the hub for this program is in the newly constructed headquarters building for the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services (RCAAS) on the Douglass Campus. The center, which first opened in 2017, is a first-of-its-kind project, and will now have a new building... read more
6.20
Vanessa Hus Bal, an associate professor at the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, conducts research to advance understanding of the aging population of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Emphasizing a lifespan perspective, her lab encompasses four broad research areas: Defining meaningful achievements and specific needs of adults with ASD Characterizing how ASD symptoms manifest across the range of cognitive and language abilities at developmental stages across the lifespan Identifying behavioral, biological, and contextual factors that affect longer-term adult... read more
4.20
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended work and school schedules for millions across the country. While new distance learning and working arrangements are aggravating and inconvenient to many, to those with Autism Spectrum Disorder, disruptions in daily routines can trigger problematic – even dangerous – behaviors, said James Maraventano, who directs Supporting Community Access through Leisure and Employment (SCALE) at Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services (RCAAS). “A lot of our participants and many people with autism thrive on schedules and really require consistency within their program in... read more
10.18
The Rutgers Board of Governors today awarded the Karmazin and Lillard Chair in Adult Autism to Vanessa Hus Bal, associate professor in the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP), whose unique research emphasizes a life span perspective in the understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in adulthood. Internationally recognized for her scholarly contributions and leadership, Bal has established herself as a scholar with a unique and specific focus on adults with autism, examining both biological and behavioral approaches that may be useful in screening and... read more
4.17
New Jersey State Senate President Stephen Sweeney came to Rutgers University Friday to learn about plans for the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services (RCAAS), a unique mix of vocational and residential programs for adults to work and live within a university community. Sweeney got a chance to meet Craig Lillard, 23, the first adult in the center’s day program who works at Harvest Café in the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health, as he took time out from cleaning tables. Read the full article here:
12.16
Rutgers is creating a center for adults with autism that will  provide the opportunity for them to live and work independently within a university setting. The Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services, located on the Douglass Campus at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, will offer up to 60 adults university jobs and support from clinical staff and graduate students. Read the full article here:  http://magazine.rutgers.edu/health-matters/autism-help-on-the-way
11.15
The Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services (RCAAS), to be located in two buildings on the university's Douglass Campus in New Brunswick, will offer up to 60 adults with autism, who are living off campus, with university jobs supported by clinical staff and graduate students. A second phase of the center will offer a pilot residential program for 20 adults with autism who will work on campus and live alongside Rutgers graduate students in an integrated apartment-style residence. Read the full article here:  http://news.rutgers.edu/news-release/rutgers-announces-initiative-launch-center-...
11.21
The November issue of the Gazette features research highlights at the RCAAS. Whitney Pubylski-Yanofchick, MSW, BCBA; Christeen Zaki-Scarpa, MA; Robert H. LaRue, PhD, BCBA-D, Christopher Manente, PhD, BCBA; and SungWoo Kahng, PhD, BCBA-D published a research study in the journal Behavior Analysis in Practice on the topic of effective treatments for food selectivity in adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Additionally, Dr. Vanessa Bal and colleagues published a paper examining suicidal ideation in children with autism diagnoses. Read the issue here:
10.21
The October issue of the Gazette features coverage on the grand opening of the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services' new Community Center. Guests gathered on the Community Center’s lawn for the ribbon cutting ceremony, following speeches from Rutgers-NB Chancellor-Provost Francine Conway, RCAAS Executive Director Christopher Manente, RCAAS Relationship Coach Amy Gravino, Senator Stephen Sweeney, Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway, and Executive Director of the Karma Foundation Dina Karmazin Elkins. Read the issue here:
9.21
In the September issue of the Gazette, there is a staff spotlight for Amy Gravino, MA; relationship coach at the RCAAS. Amy Gravino was featured on podcasts as an advocate for adults with ASD. She elaborated on the importance of topics such as sexuality exploration on the spectrum and better serving girls and women with ASD. Read the issue here:
7.21
The July issue of the Gazette features the newest accomplishments of RCAAS Co-Director of Research, SungWoo Kahng, Ph.D. Dr. Kahng was recently named the President of the Board of Directors of the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board (BACB) and received a $50,000 grant from the New Jersey Governor's Council of Medical Research and Treatment of Autism for his research at the University.  Read the issue here:
6.21
In the June 11th issue of the Gazette, RCAAS Executive Director, Christopher Manente, is highlighted for his recent literature review publication with colleagues, and the Byrne Seminar, Perspectives on Autism in Adulthood, makes its Gazette-debut. Read the issue here:
5.21
This May issue of the Gazette features coverage of an insightful new journal publication from the Director of the RCAAS-SCALE Program, Dr. James Maraventano; Director of Behavioral Services at ​the RCAAS and Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center (DDDC), Dr. Robert LaRue; DDDC Adult Program Behavior Analyst, Jenna Budge; and Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP) alumni, Catherine Kishel, and Dr. David Singer. And (in case you missed it!), learn why the RCAAS is being named an "extraodinary organization moving the needle on inclusion"... read more
4.21
The second April issue of the Gazette calls attention to the virtual Disability Sports, Health and Wellness Conference that took place on Tuesday, April 13th. RCAAS Executive Director, Christopher Manente, Ph.D., BCBA; RCAAS-SCALE participant and gold medal winning Special Olympics athlete, Alex Scheck; and Alex's mother, Angela Scheck, were invited as presenters, giving them the platform to speak to discuss the importance of advocating for disability visibility and inclusion in the sports community and beyond. Read the issue here:
4.21
The April 8th issue of the Gazette reflects the busy couple of months the RCAAS has had. This issue covers Dr. Vanessa H. Bal, Karmazin and Lillard Endowed Chair in Adult Autism, Co-Director's recent research highligting the impacts of COVID-19 on early career researchers; the upcoming Disability Sports, Health, and Wellness Conference featuring SCALE participant, Alex Scheck; and the Rutgers Today article highlighting the new RCAAS Community Center! Read the issue here:
3.21
This issue of the Gazette features the contributions of RCAAS Executive Director, Christopher Manente, Ph.D., BCBA, to the article "As Number of Adults With Autism Rise, Need For Better Services Apparent." Dr. Manente extends his expert insight in the American Psychiatric Association's newsletter, Psychiatric News, as professionals come together to address the rising need for comprehensive support programs for aduts on the autism spectrum. Read the issue here:
3.21
This issue of the Gazette promotes the upcoming New Jersey Association for Behavioral Analysis (NJABA) Annual Conference. Courtney Butler, BCBA, CSP Coordinator, and Whitney Pubylski-Yanofchick, BCBA, SCALE Behavior Analyst, will be in attendance, each presenting their research surrounding professional development skills and employment for adults with ASD, respectively. Read the issue here:
7.21
This week, Amy Gravino, RCAAS Relationship Coach, joins the podcast Autism Weekly to discuss dating and relationship maintenance on the autism spectrum. Amy also covers "the importance of sex ed and how parents can start the conversation with their teens."    Listen to the podcast here:
6.21
In this half-hour conversation with Dr. Ronit Molko of the Illuminare Podcast, Amy Gravino, RCAAS Relationship Coach, shares her insight surrounding women, sexuality, and autism as an autism sexuality advocate. Amy "discusses the importance of comprehensive sexual education for those on the autism spectrum and how sex can and should play a role in those with autism reclaiming their independence." Listen to the podcast here:
6.21
A year ago, Christopher Manente was excited with the progress of Rutgers’ innovative jobs training program for adults on the autism spectrum. As executive director of the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services, he and his colleagues had guided the development of this groundbreaking program from concept through launch and had achieved initial success helping autistic adults thrive through meaningful employment. The program engaged a very diverse group of adults on the autism spectrum with a wide range of abilities and support needs, providing a structure of ongoing support, training, and... read more
5.21
Amy Gravino, RCAAS Relationship, spoke with Holly Blanc Moses of The Autism ADHD Podcast to discuss how to better support autistic girls, who are often misunderstood. Together, they examine common issues that girls on the autism spectrum face; acknowledge the importance of safe spaces; and highlight that "asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength." Listen to the podcast here:
5.21
"Many adults are misdiagnosed, as practitioners who are less familiar with autism in adults may assume that an absence of symptoms they look for in children means the adult does not have autism," Bal says. Dr. Vanessa H. Bal, Karmazin and Lillard Chair in Adult Autism, RCAAS Co-Director of Research, and RCAAS-Psychological Services Clinic Director continues to contribute to the ongoing dialogue surrounding efforts for progressing the recognized importance of enhanced diagnosis of autism in adulthood. In sharing the current complexities of establishing a diagnosis of ASD in adults... read more
4.21
In this debate-style podcast episode, Amy Gravino, RCAAS Relationship Coach, joins as the first guest debater on ABA Ultimate Showdown, "a podcast promoting constructive, respectful, and professional discourse to advance the field of behavior analysis." Amy joins Angela DiPoce in debating Ashley Callahan in round 10 of the podcast to discuss stereotypy and its place in applied behavioral analysis (ABA). Listen to the podcast here:
4.21
The newest offering from Rutgers University's Center for Adult Autism Services, a first-of-its-kind, 10,000-square foot Community Center is now operational on the Douglass Campus. Custom-built and designed with $9.5 million in philanthropic funds, the center currently offers three core programs: SCALE, or Supporting Community Access through Leisure and Employment, a Psychological Services Clinic, and a College Support Program for autistic undergrads. Read the full article here:
4.21
April is widely known as Autism Awareness month. Many advocates for persons with autism would rather see April declared as Autism Acceptance month. Regardless of your leaning, autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today. In New Jersey there are two extraordinary organizations moving the needle on acceptance and inclusion of persons... read more
4.21
Life-changing news came on a Thursday just before Christmas, in an email so unexpected I nearly deleted it as spam. The subject line: "We have found a genetic cause for your autism." In 2016, I sent a saliva sample to the Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge -- better known as SPARK -- for an autism research study, becoming one of its first participants. After five years of waiting, I assumed that SPARK didn't have any genetic answers about my autism. Even though a personal result would have been amazing, what mattered to me more was what this study could mean for our... read more
2.21
In an interview with Psychiatric News, Dr. Christopher Manente, BCBA, RCAAS Executive Director, stresses that the need for support for individuals with autism does not come to a halt at the age of 21 and how necessary support, such as behavioral therapy from specially trained professionals, can immensely benefit adults on the spectrum. “We need to professionalize adult autism services in the same manner they are for children,” Manente said. “We know that adults with ASD need a lot of support at any age.” Read the full article here:
5.21
Dr. Christopher Manente, BCBA, RCAAS Executive Director, alongside esteemed colleagues from Caldwell University - Alexandra M. Campanaro, MA, BCBA; Jason C. Vladescu, PhD, BCBA-D; Meghan A. Deshais, PhD, BCBA-D; and Ruth M. DeBar, PhD, BCBA-D - published a literature review drawing on trends of successful vocational training methods. This review, which covers a total of 50 articles, including 53 experiments, will aid in establishing a collection of effective and viable techniques for teaching pertinent vocational skills to adults with ASD. Read the full research... read more
4.21
This new journal publication from Director of the RCAAS-SCALE Program, Dr. James Maraventano; Director of Behavioral Services at ​the RCAAS and Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center (DDDC), Dr. Robert LaRue; DDDC Adult Program Behavior Analyst, Jenna Budge; and Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology (GSAPP) alumni, Catherine Kishel, and Dr. David Singer, calls attention to the use of Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior (DRO) reinforcement systems and how they can be optimized in practice.  Read the full research... read more
3.21
Congratulations to Dr. Vanessa Bal, MSc, Karmazin and Lillard Endowed Chair in Adult Autism, Director of RCAAS-PSC, and RCAAS Co-Director of Research, Amy Gravino, MA, RCAAS Relationship Coach, and Gabrielle Gunin, Rutgers GSAPP PsyD Student on having their paper, “Advancing Mental Health Supports for Autistic Postsecondary Students: A Call for Research,” published in the journal Autism in Adulthood! This paper highlights the need for more accessible mental health supports for adults with autism enrolled in college or university and recommends further research in the... read more
2.21
In collaboration with colleagues from the SPARK Consortium, Simons Foundation, the Kennedy Kreiger Institute, and Columbia University, Dr. Vanessa H. Bal, MSc, BCBA, Karmazin and Lillard Endowed Chair in Adult Autism, Director of RCAAS-Psychological Services Clinic (PSC), and RCAAS Co-Director of Research, and Ellen Wilkinson, PSC Team Member, published this study documenting the recent impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the psychological well-being of adults with ASD. Results from this study present new developments for supporting adults on the autism spectrum during the... read more
1.21
COVID-19 has presented negative effect of varying gravity for us all, including researchers who are in the early stages of their career. Dr. Vanessa Bal, M.Sc, Ph.D.  and colleagues studied the impact of COVID-19 on early career ASD researches, sharing the obstacles they've faced as well as the steps they have and should take to overcome these challenges.  The research team joined the Autism Science Foundation on their ASF Weekly Science Podcast to share their results. Listen here: https://asfpodcast.org/archives/1149 Read the full research... read more
11.20
This publication of the collaborative work of Dr. Christopher Manente, BCBA, Dr. SungWoo Kahng, BCBA-D, Courtney Butler, MS, BCBA, Dr. Robert LaRue, BCBA-D, Christeen Zaki-Scarpa, MA, BCBA, and Ashley Kobylarz MS, BCBA, showcases how stereotypy, or the persistent repetition of an act or vocal sound, plays out in the daily life of those with ASD, and highlights certain treatment practices that can reduce these stereotypies, especially in complex settings. Read the full research publication here:
7.20
The Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services (RCAAS) staff recently presented topical, engaging posters at the 2020 Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) Virtual Conference. Congratulations to Courtney Butler, MS, BCBA, Whitney Pubylski-Yanofchick, MSW, BCBA, Christeen Scarpa, MS, and Ian Bober, MA for their achievement! The ABAI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing the growth of the science of behavior analysis. Their annual convention is the largest behavior analysis convention in the world. View the RCAAS team's posters.