past events & lectures

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  • The Arnold Pfeffer Center for Neuropsychoanalysis

    An Integrative Model of Autism Spectrum Disorder

    Saturday, March 4, 2017
    10:00 AM

    Presenter: William Singletary, M.D.
    Discussant: Maggie Zellner, Ph.D.

    Recent convergences within neurobiology, and between neurobiology and psychoanalysis, allow us to view autism through a new lens, seeing biological risk factors that might operate through final common pathways to produce the ASD syndrome. This talk integrates and elaborate upon this confluence of findings, developing a working model of ASD that could parsimoniously account for central aspects of ASD, promote greater collaboration in research, and lead to more effective treatment. ASD can be seen as a potentially reversible neurodevelopmental disorder in which neurobiological factors – not poor parenting – interfere with the child–caregiver interaction. The infant then experiences deprivation of growth-promoting parental input, even though it is available. This model adds what seems to have been largely unrecognized in the field of autism: the child’s experience of social deprivation and isolation signals threat to the child, and may result in overwhelming stress ("allostatic overload") that damages the body and predisposes one to the development of disease. Critically, this model proposes that allostatic overload may amplify the neurobiological vulnerabilities thought to be involved with development of autism. The model also supports successful intervention that may promote the reversal of this process via adaptive coping and neuroplasticity, by providing an enriched environment, increasing social and emotional connection, and decreasing anxiety, stress, and allostatic load. Making sense of the child’s experience of isolation and threat helps the ASD child feel understood and less afraid. Clinical material will illustrate how, for some children on the higher end of the autism spectrum, recovery is made more likely by increasing the sense of connection and decreasing the experience of stress.

    2 CME/ CE credits offered

    Free and open to the public. RSVP is appreciated but not required; first come, first-seated

    New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute
    247 East 82nd Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues)
    The Marianne & Nicholas Young Auditorium


    Dr. William Singletary is a child and adult psychiatrist and psychoanalyst on the faculty of the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia. He is President of the Board of the Margaret S. Mahler Psychiatric Research Foundation. He has worked in intensive psychotherapy with children with autistic spectrum disorder for over 25 years. For nine years he was a co-chair of a discussion group, Psychoanalytic Approaches to Working with Children with ASD, at the winter meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Recently he has focused on developing a dialogue between psychoanalysis and neurobiology. Dr. Singletary was one of the primary organizers of an international symposium on the psychoanalytic treatment of ASD held in New York City in 2008. An outgrowth was the formation of an international organization dedicated to the psychoanalytic understanding and treatment of autistic children. He has a particular interest in the inner world of the child with ASD and has taught and made a number of presentations on this subject. He contributed the chapters on neuroscience for the recently published book, Autism Spectrum Disorder: Perspectives from Psychoanalysis and Neuroscience by Susan Sherkow and Alexandra Harrison.

guidance • support • stress • anxiety • depression • conflict • hyperactivity • identity disorders • socialization • self-esteem •
guidance • support • stress • anxiety • depression • conflict • hyperactivity • identity disorders • socialization • self-esteem •
guidance • support • stress • anxiety • depression • conflict • hyperactivity • identity disorders • socialization • self-esteem •