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Understanding the Needs of Children with Autism

Dr. Megan Boyle
Dr. Megan Boyle
Dr. Megan Boyle
Dr. Megan Boyle

Individuals with autism experience the world differently, and often have challenges with social situations or communication.

Dr. Megan Boyle, associate professor of special education at Missouri State University, is a board-certified behavior analyst. She runs a clinic for children with autism spectrum disorders and prepares the next generation of educators for behavior issues in the classroom.

Boyle wants to empower caregivers with practical and sustainable treatment options for problem behaviors. One step is improving communication and providing positive reinforcement for functional communication.An interview with Dr. Megan Boyle

One of the behaviors she has studied in-depth is called elopement, a term used for leaving an area without permission. She has found that this largely under-studied behavior can have several reasons for developing.

  • Attention-seeking: Caregivers naturally chase a child who is running away.
  • Escaping a task, place or situation: Children with autism often want to escape a specific situation because it may be unfamiliar, unpleasant or overstimulating.
  • Sensory seeking: A child may run because he enjoys the pounding of the pavement, the strain of the leg muscles or the wind whipping against his face.
  • Accessing an object or activity: When it’s out of reach, bolting may seem like the only option.

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Nicki received a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration from Missouri State in marketing, in 2002 and 2004 respectively. After gaining experience in writing, marketing, special event planning, fundraising and public relations, she returned to the university to work as the public relations specialist in the office of university communications. There she tells the university’s story by sharing the stories of individuals at Missouri State.