“Students who have special interests are often told to limit their focus on what’s known as ‘restricted interests’ in a deficit-based model. In reality, these interests are incredible avenues for career pathways, self-determined relationships, social interaction, and competence building,” said Department of Occupational Therapy Associate Professor and Chair, Kristie Patten.
Patten is Co-Principal Investigator on the project, working alongside Principal Investigator Wendy Martin of the Education Development Center and Co-Investigator Luke Dubois of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering.
The new grant will expand inclusive maker programming to local high schools and elementary schools — over the next three years, the project will grow to include 12 total STEM inclusion programs run by 24 teachers, reaching approximately 150-180 students on and off the spectrum each year. It will also help increase the education community’s understanding of how inclusive maker programming can help young people on the autism spectrum participate in STEM careers.
New York Hall of Science, SRI International, teachers and principals from autism inclusion schools, and an advisor from the New York City Department of Education’s Special Education Office are also involved in the project.