Student and Faculty Spotlights
Winter 2021 IRIS Stanley Krohmer Senior Project Award
Lindsey Wylie-Gruen was chosen as the recipient of the Winter 2021 Stanley Krohmer Senior Project Award for her work titled "ABA Therapy: Controversy and Reconciliation"
Each Fall and Winter, the IRIS Department recognizes outstanding senior projects through two awards: the Wendy J. Wenner Senior Project Award and the Stanley Krohmer Senior Project Award. The Krohmer Award is named after a long-time IRIS faculty member, Professor Stan Krohmer, an internationally recognized painter, poet, and photographer. The Stanley Krohmer award recognizes outstanding senior projects that showcase creativity and liberal education mindedness. The IRIS Awards committee was particularly impressed with Lindsey's robust comparative research and how rigorously your project analyzes ABA therapy from multiple perspectives.
Some thoughts from Lindsay:
To be quite honest, I didn’t choose Integrative Studies; I just naturally kind of found my way to it. I have always loved learning, and it never made sense to limit myself to just one area of interest. I have known since middle school that I wanted to become a doctor, and when I first began college, I had my heart set on neuroscience and medical school. I did not anticipate switching my major to English during my sophomore year, or thriving in my creative writing courses in the semesters to follow. I also had not planned on dropping out and leaving the state with a year left in my degree. When I made the decision to return to GVSU, it had been 5 years since I left. In that time I’d moved to Los Angeles, built myself a career, and gained a new sense of self. My work as a preschool teacher and a behavior interventionist revitalized my love of learning, and I was once again dreaming of becoming a doctor. The Integrative Studies program seemed like a perfect fit for me, as it intuitively laced all of my interests together: science, philosophy, and writing. I have been a full time behavior interventionist for the last three years, providing applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy to children who have developmental delays and disabilities. I was on Twitter when I first learned that a significant number of self-advocates in the autistic community were against the therapy. A lot of people were reflecting on their childhood experiences of the therapy, saying that it was traumatic, and that it didn’t really address their needs, rather, attempted to train them to “act normal” and make them indistinguishable from their neurotypical peers. This revelation inspired the research for my senior project, ABA Therapy: Controversy & Reconciliation, in which I further analyzed grievances from the autistic community and the correlation between ABA therapy and trauma. It has been an extremely personal journey. I was confronted with perspectives that contradicted my own, which led me to reflect on my role as a therapist and question my entire career. I am proud of the work I have done, and to be recognized for it with the Stanley Krohmer Award is beyond anything I expected. I have ambitions to continue this work by pursuing a doctorate in the same realm, studying neurodevelopmental disorders and intellectual disabilities. I also intend to continue advocating for autistic and disabled people as advised by autistic and disabled people. I will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity to learn, grow, and share this research with my peers and colleagues. It has been an honor and a pleasure.
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