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Sunday, July 12, 2020

Academics & Research

UH psychology professor creates autism resource guide for those affected by pandemic


Professor Sarah Mire and her team virtually met while in process of creating the resource guide. | Courtesy of Sarah Mire

While the coronavirus pandemic has left some parents across the U.S. grappling with questions, University school psychology professor Sarah Mire has created a 22-page resource guide for families with children on the autism spectrum. 

The resource guide contains dozens of links to web pages and files that address a variety of aspects  tending to the needs of children with autism spectrum disorder.

It includes a child-friendly story from the Autism Society of America called “My Schedule Will Change” and a list of the “Best Autism Apps for Kids” put together by Autism Parenting Magazine.

Mire said that many parents and guardians are busy during this time with other concerns, such as navigating possible unemployment and watching out for the health of their loved ones.

Because of this, while many reputable organizations have published helpful information; families of children with ASD may not always be able to seek these resources out.

“The idea behind developing this guide was to create a ‘one-stop-shop’ of sorts so that (the families) could locate hopefully useful information in a single source,” Mire said.

To create the guide, Mire and a group of ASD-focused doctoral students divided relevant topics among themselves and searched for information on websites of reputable clinics and organizations.

After a week of searching and holding virtual meetings, Mire and her team had compiled all the links and placed them in the resource guide.

“One thing I like a lot about this guide is that it includes web-links, and this means that as organizations update their information, the links included in our guide will direct families towards any updates, as well,” Mire said. “Though many national resources are included, we also worked to include links to local Houston resources.”

In addition to her recent work on the guide, Mire developed and directs the UH School Psychology Autism Research Collaboration team.

Her research focuses on how ASD diagnoses affect parents as well as educational and healthcare providers, and how these adult then affect the treatments and outcomes of children with ASD.

“The major focus of my research is exploring factors that facilitate positive outcomes for kids with ASD and their families,” Mire said. “A lot of those factors have to do with identifying the needs and the strengths of the adults who play key roles in kids’ lives at home, school and in the community.”

Mire strives to bring more low-income and ethnic minority families of children with ASD into current research so that their strengths and needs can be better assessed.

With a clearer understanding of disparities in ASD diagnosis, treatment and service, Mire said, these particular children will be better served by the ongoing research.

Mire hopes that if any students or faculty at UH are raising children with ASD, they will be able to use her resource guide or share it with others. She has already received word that it is being used outside of the University.

“I have heard directly from several colleagues in the field who shared the resource with families that they serve around the Houston area,” Mire said. “I think it is a fairly comprehensive and useful guide to at least get families started.”

For more of The Cougar’s coronavirus coverage, click here.

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