An Interdisciplinary Approach to Autism and the COVID-19 Pandemic: Two-part Series

Learn more about the groundbreaking autism research, services and educational training happening across campus and the community grounded in Marquette’s mission as a Catholic and Jesuit institution.

Learn more about Autism initiatives at Marquette University:

SESSION 2: – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2021 | Noon - 1:00 p.m. CT

This session will focus on college students and adults on the autism spectrum. 


Presented by Emily Raclaw, Director, On Your Marq, Office of Disability Services, Marquette University; Dr. Norah Johnson, Associate Professor, College of Nursing, Marquette University; Rachel Stanley, Clinical Psychology Graduate student, Marquette University. Moderated by Dr. Amy Vaughan Van Hecke, Professor, Psychology, Marquette University

Dr. Johnson from the College of Nursing will discuss physical health for individuals on the autism spectrum during the pandemic, including ways to engage healthcare providers in sensitive strategies for care. Ms. Raclaw from the On Your Marq college autism support program will discuss how to support college students on the autism spectrum during this pandemic and how to improve virtual and on-campus learning. Ms. Stanley, a graduate student in Clinical Psychology, will provide some research findings and tips about how older adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum engage socially over the internet.


Emily Raclaw, MS, LPC is the director of On Your Marq. She is a lifelong Milwaukee resident and brings over 10 years of disability in education expertise to the program. She has presented at several conferences and trained other college success programs on the topics of disability as diversity, neurodiversity, and programming.

Prior to coming to Marquette, Emily taught high school special education, worked as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, and coordinated a college success program for students with disabilities. She is an expert in program creation and development, as well as a disability advocate and professional. She is also a licensed professional counselor and utilizes those skills to ensure On Your Marq considers the whole student. Outside of work she spends time with her son and husband. She is a Disneyphile and loves to travel.

Dr. Norah Johnson is clinical professor in the College of Nursing at Marquette University. The aim of Dr. Johnson's research is the development of knowledge and interventions to decrease child challenging behaviors and improve the health of persons with developmental disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and their caregivers. She works with an interdisciplinary team as part of the Marquette Autism Initiative. She studies family care-giving stress, family functioning and quality of life as well as exercise as medicine including swimming programs for children with autism and their caregivers. Her community engaged program of research uses mixed methodology. She developed a copyrighted iPhone autism Health Care Manager app. She is also a member of the Milwaukee Pediatric Nursing Research Consortium involved in translational research, implementation evaluation, and developing and evaluating staff development curriculums for pediatric hospitals.

Rachel Stanley is a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology program at Marquette University. She received her undergraduate degree from Ripon College with a double major in psychology and disability justice. Her research focuses on the experiences of autistic adults and their perspectives on support needs. Rachel's research on autistic adults' college experiences has been used to develop the On Your Marq program, which she also works with as a student coach. She is currently researching autistic social and mental health experiences during COVID-19 and autistic perspectives on treatment needs. She enjoys reading, creative writing, drawing, and knitting.

Dr. Amy Vaughan Van Hecke, Professor, Psychology, is originally from Canton, Mississippi. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. After a research internship at the University of Portsmouth, England, Dr. Van Hecke completed her doctoral work in Developmental Psychology with Peter C. Mundy at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. Dr. Van Hecke then received a Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) from the National Institute of Mental Health to complete a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Dr. Van Hecke currently serves as President of the Executive Board of the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin, a member of the steering team of the statewide Community of Practice on Autism and Developmental Disabilities, and a member of the Treatment and Intervention Advisory Committee at the Wisconsin Department of Health, Children’s Services Division. Dr. Van Hecke enjoys reading, traveling, holding an annual crawfish boil, co-leading a Girl Scouts troop, and cooking Southern food for her husband, her daughters, friends, and students in her spare time. Her undergraduate students particularly enjoy her brown-sugar baked bacon.



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