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PhD Candidate Receives USC Diploma in Innovation Grant

Jul 15, 2013, by Mike McNulty, in General News

Amber Angell

Amber Angell

Occupational science PhD candidate Amber Angell was recently awarded a Diploma in Innovation grant from the USC Graduate School with support from the USC Stevens Center for Innovation.

The rising prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in the United States has been accompanied by racial disparities in its diagnosis: Latino children are diagnosed at a later age than white children, are more likely to be misdiagnosed, and are less likely to be diagnosed at all. Angell’s ethnographic study hopes to minimize such disparities by better understanding the perspectives of Latino families that have a child with autism, as well as the perspectives of clinicians such as physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists. Her work aims to identify challenges to, and opportunities for, Latino children to receive timelier and more accurate autism diagnoses.

The Diploma in Innovation grant will specifically support Angell’s work to create a professional awareness curriculum and corresponding webinar designed to enhance practitioners’ skills in identifying autism in Latino children. This curriculum will be developed in collaboration with Larry Yin, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and Olga Solomon, assistant professor at the USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

Angell is also a licensed pediatric occupational therapist who has treated children with a range of developmental challenges and diagnoses including autism in various school, home, clinic, and early intervention settings. She has conducted research with the NAPA-OT Field School in Antigua, Guatemala, to explore how social workers support educational outcomes for children in rural Guatemala, and this summer she is also working on a project examining the role of nutrition in child development for young children in rural Guatemala.