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Autism Studies Concentration Faculty

M. Michelle Rowe, Ph.D.
Katharine Croce, M.Ed., BCBA
Lauren Swanson, ’07, BCBA
Nicole Whitelock, M.S.Ed., BCBA
Theresa Gill, M.S.W.

M. Michelle Rowe, Ph.D.
Dr. Michelle Rowe is the Executive Director of the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support and Professor of Health Services at Saint Joseph's University. Dr. Rowe is a biopsychologist who focuses on how the physiology of the brain affects health and behavior. Over the past 15+ years her research has explored how people cope with significant stress, and more recently, how families and service providers cope with the unique demands of living with, caring for, and/or working with individuals with autism. Her hope, in working in the field of autism, is for those with autism to be integrated as valued and contributing members of society, and for their families to see them reach their full potential.

Dr. Rowe received her BS in psychology from Rowan University (summa cum laude), and her Masters and PhD from Temple University. She has been teaching at the college-level since 1990 and joined the faculty at Saint Joseph's University in 1993, where she received both teaching and research awards. Dr. Rowe is also a licensed psychologist.

In 1997, Dr. Rowe developed the undergraduate major in Interdisciplinary Health Services in the Department of Health Services. She also served as Chair of the Department of Health Services and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In 2004, she created the Saint Joseph's University Autism Awareness Day, which occurs annually in April. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in autism spectrum disorders, chronic illness and disabilities, health behavior and research design and statistics.

Dr. Rowe's scholarly research articles have appeared in, among other venues, Behavioral Neuroscience, Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Current Psychology, American Journal of Health Behavior, and Journal of Nursing Management. She has authored over 70 peer-reviewed scholarly papers, chapters and presentations. Dr. Rowe is a distance runner, and spends personal time gardening, traveling, and with her family and friends.

Check out our interview with Dr. Michelle Rowe for in-depth information about this concentration. Learn about the value it has on your career and the impact it makes on the lives of those who have autism spectrum disorder.

Katharine Croce, M.Ed., BCBA
Katharine "Katie" Croce is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. In college, Katie began her work with children with autism and provided early behavioral intervention for several young children. It was through these experiences she decided to dedicate her life to helping individuals with autism and their families.

After graduation, she joined the faculty and staff of the Bucks County Intermediate Unit #22 as a behavior analyst, and ultimately became the primary behavior analyst for the Upper County Autistic Support Program. In that role, Katie was in charge of managing student behaviors, conducting functional behavioral assessments, graphing and analyzing data, developing individualized behavior intervention plans, staff training, parent education, and program management.

Katie received her BA in psychology from LaSalle University, her Master's Degree from Temple University in Applied Behavior Analysis, and an Autism Certificate from Penn State University. As a graduate student, she was involved in a major longitudinal research study and became proficient at using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), the gold standard test used to diagnose children with autism. She is co-creator of the Self and Match system, which incorporates self-monitoring into behavioral programs. Katie has presented her research internationally at ABA International conferences, has been a guest lecturer at Holy Family University, Temple University, Lehigh University, Devereux, the Bucks County Autism Support Coalition Conference, and Bucks County Intermediate Unit#22. She also appeared on the groundbreaking NBC 10-part series "Autism: The Hidden Epidemic" in 2004. Katie is thrilled to join the team at the Kinney Center.

Lauren Swanson, '07, BCBA
Lauren Swanson '07 is the Assistant Director of Community Resources for the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Health Services from Saint Joseph's University and a certificate in Behavioral Intervention in Autism from the University of Massachusetts. Currently, she is completing a Master of Science in Health Administration and Health Education at SJU.

In college, Lauren worked with children with Autism in a local elementary school while learning more about the field in her coursework. In addition to her work experience and internships, much of Lauren's experiences come from having an older brother on the spectrum. Through him, she has learned a great deal, ranging from various treatment methods to locating proper community resources, to understanding the effects on the family, the community, and the individual himself. Lauren is particularly interested in the transition period into adulthood as well as advocacy for the individual and his or her family.

Nicole Whitelock, M.S.Ed., BCBA
Nicole Whitelock received her Bachelor of Science degree and certification in Elementary and Kindergarten Education from Pennsylvania State University in 2006, and completed her Master of Science degree in Special Education with a concentration in Behavior Analysis at Saint Joseph's University in 2011. Through undergraduate student teaching, she first learned of individual behavior management plans to support students in regular education kindergarten and her interest grew in special education.

After graduation, she worked in elementary special education classrooms as an Instructional Aide for a resource room and an autistic support classroom. When Nicole taught kindergarten at an early educational care facility, she learned the struggles children with autism spectrum disorders face adjusting to classroom settings and became inspired to work closer with individuals on the spectrum. Nicole began working as a Therapeutic Staff Support with several children, teens, and their families in both home and school settings while pursuing her master's degree at SJU.

When she learned of the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support, she knew it was a place with a mission that matched the one in her heart! She began a position as a Graduate Assistant at the center while finishing her studies, contributing to planning, instruction, and behavioral interventions. Nicole is thrilled to continue both supporting individuals with autism and enhancing the knowledge and practice of undergraduates who share her passion in autism interventions. She loves meeting new people, spending time with friends and family, and enhancing the social experiences of others!

Theresa Gill, M.S.W.
Theresa graduated from Cabrini College in 2005 where she majored in Social Work. She then received her Master of Social Work in 2009 from West Chester University.

Theresa has worked with children and their families in a variety of settings including residential treatment facilities, hospitals and schools. She has provided counseling services along with locating community resources. Theresa has also worked with children with autism at a therapeutic summer camp and autistic support after school program.

She hopes to provide children and their families with resources and support that best meet their needs, while improving quality of life.

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