Quirkiness vs. autism

Learn about: Quirkiness vs. autism from Allison Kawa, PsyD,...
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Quirkiness vs. autism

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Lots of parents worry if their child is quirky or has one or two autistic symptoms or autistic traits. When a parent really needs to worry is if any of those symptoms or traits affects their child's ability to function in any area. For example, there are lots of children who get very passionate about certain things. If you have a child who is very, very passionate about soccer, or very, very passionate about studying the ocean; it's completely fine unless they are unable to disengage from participating in that interest to come to dinner. Or they are so intent about talking about their interests, that they can't talk about anything else and it becomes a social problems. It is normal to have quirks. It is normal to have intense interests. It's normal to have symptoms, one or two things of autism. It is when those things really start to get in the child's way, that a parent needs to start thinking about possibly getting an assessment or looking into getting some help for their child.

Learn about: Quirkiness vs. autism from Allison Kawa, PsyD,...

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Allison Kawa, PsyD

Child Psychologist

Alison Kawa is a licensed child psychologist specializing in the evaluation of children and adolescents.  Her pre- and post-doctoral training emphasized child and adolescent testing.  She was a fellow in the UCLA Autism Evaluation Clinic where she acquired extensive training in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders and a range of other developmental disorders.  During this time, she also obtained certification from the University of Michigan Autism and Communication Disorders Center (UMACC) on the gold standard instruments (i.e., ADI-R and ADOS) used in autism evaluations.  Following her fellowship, she became Senior Assessor at UCLA where she worked for four years.

Alison completed the PsychoEducational Diagnostic Services Program (PEDS) Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Pediatric Assessment at the Reiss Davis Child Study Center at Vista Del Mar.  In this setting, she conducted comprehensive psychoeducational evaluations for children and adolescents with a diverse range of issues including ADHD, Learning Disabilities, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders.  She also completed the Child Therapy in a School Setting program offered by Phillips Graduate Institute, where she gained training and experience in play therapy, social skills groups, and therapeutic interventions appropriate for adolescents. 

While completing her graduate training in psychology, she held a staff position at Working With Autism, Inc., where she worked individually with children with autism, provided case management and supervision, and developed and implemented a staff-training curriculum.  It was through this position that she acquired a love for teaching and training. In addition to her private practice, she teaches pre- and post-doctoral fellows at the Reiss Davis Child Study Center at Vista Del Mar, where she also works as a supervisor and consultant.

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