The American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies - Webinar

Autism, COVID-19, and Loneliness: Important Implications for Mental Health and Care    (MEMBERS ONLY)

Presented by Jerrod Brown, Ph.D., Amy Jozan, Psy.D., and Nicole Kimberley-Staeheli

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Webinar Objectives:

  • Provide general overview of ASD, developmental, and behavioral challenges
  • Describe literature on complications of Covid-19 related to ASD populations such as risk for cyberbullying and social exclusion
  • Explain concepts related to loneliness and implications for mental health
  • Explicate research specific to loneliness and ASD populations
  • Discuss implications for Covid-19 on loneliness in individuals having ASD
  • Provide perspective and experience about challenges related to raising a child on the spectrum during a global pandemic in relation with perceived isolation, loss of routine, and limited access to necessary resources
  • Explore the overall impact of Covid-19 associated challenges, living with uncertainty, children on the autism spectrum, and their families
  • Examine the topics of loneliness, cyberbullying concerns, and problems with service accessibility and discuss practical tips and suggestions for schools, the community, and therapists to best support parents and their children on the spectrum


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder having varying implications for different areas of functioning, impacting affected individuals’ daily living. Common symptomology for those having ASD may encompass need for predictable routine, difficulty with social processing, and challenges in social relationships. Many individuals having ASD also display repetitive behavioral patterns that may become exacerbated with experiences of stress and uncertainty. Difficulty with relationships may further compound experiences of loneliness or perceived isolation in individuals having ASD which has negative implications for mental health, future relationships, and physical health trajectories. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in necessary health regulations but may also further complicate common impairment related challenges and access to necessary services. Parenting a child with ASD is a rewarding experience but may also be filled with many challenges. The third presenter, Nicole Kimberley-Staeheli, is a mother of a teenager with severe ASD. Through a mother’s rich perspective, this webinar will elucidate challenges related to parenting a child with ASD during Covid-19, what resources are necessary to support individuals on the spectrum, and how to best support their caregivers.

Presenter Biography:

Jerrod Brown, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor for Concordia University, St. Paul, Minnesota and has extensive experience teaching courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. Jerrod has also been employed with Pathways Counseling Center in St. Paul, Minnesota for the past seventeen years. Pathways provides programs and services benefiting individuals impacted by mental illness and addictions. Jerrod is also the founder and CEO of the American Institute for the Advancement of Forensic Studies (AIAFS) and the Editor-in-Chief of Forensic Scholars Today (FST). Jerrod has completed four separate master’s degree programs and holds graduate certificates in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Other Health Disabilities (OHD), and Traumatic-Brain Injuries (TBI). Jerrod is also certified as a Youth Firesetting Prevention/Intervention Specialist, an Anger Resolution Therapist (CART), a Thinking for a Change (T4C) Facilitator, a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Trainer, an Autism Specialist, and a Mental Health Integrative Medicine Provider (CMHIMP).

Amy Jozan is a recent graduate of Walden University's Ph.D. in forensic psychology program with a specialization in Legal Issues. Amy’s dissertation research focus was a qualitative study on lengthy youth incarceration, loneliness, prosocial relationships, and recidivism. Amy has served as a legal and medical advocate for three years, resulting in promoting legislation for enhancing special needs children's legal rights. Research interests include promoting the psychological well-being of forensically involved youth and enhancing services directed towards vulnerable forensic populations.

Nicole Kimberley-Staeheli, MATS, is the lead consultant for Nicole Ranae Consulting, LLC and has over 25 years of experience in field of Corrections. The primary focus for much of her career has been in the training, facilitation and implementation of evidence-based practices.  Ms. Kimberley-Staeheli is a certified Motivational Interviewing trainer and has personally facilitated and trained hundreds of cognitive behavioral, trauma responsive, and gender responsive interventions including, Thinking for a Change, Aggression Replacement Training, the Domestic Violence Education Program, Decision Points, Moving On, Beyond Trauma, Healing Trauma, VOICES and Beyond Violence, and has been privileged to witness first-hand their life changing effects.

Ms. Kimberley-Staeheli serves as an independent consultant for county and community-based agencies serving criminal justice involved individuals and the communities they live in with a focus on cognitive behavioral and trauma responsive interventions. She has also worked as an independent contractor with both the Decision Points Authors, LLC and Dr. Stephanie Covington, LLC and has trained facilitators in Connecticut, Idaho, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Ms. Kimberley-Staeheli received her undergraduate degree from Hamline University and her graduate degree from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN.  Ms. Kimberley-Staeheli currently chairs the Minnesota Cognitive Behavioral Network, a professional association dedicated to supporting the implementation of evidence-based practices.  She has presented at numerous state wide conferences on the importance of cognitive behavioral and trauma-responsive interventions in facilitating long-term change for criminal justice involved individuals and their communities.

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