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Dr. Laurie Sperry

Chapel Haven Schleifer Center hosted  a two-day virtual workshop series exploring two topics: Internet Safety and Sexuality geared to adults with special needs and their families.

The presenter was Dr. Laurie Sperry, a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst and an assistant clinical professor at the Yale School of Medicine who isi also a valued consultant to Chapel Haven Schleifer Center.

The first was entitled Autism and Internet Safety: Sabotage, Safety and Strategies. The workshop addressed concerns about young adults navigating the Internet, purchasing items or befriending strangers while surfing the web. Studies show that adults with disabilities face significant challenges surfing the web, sometimes with dangerous personal, financial   and legal consequences. Dr. Sperry gave an informative presentation. You can view her powerpoint here

The second was entitled “Love, Friendship and Sexuality:  How to help adults navigate the world of relationship building.” In recognition of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities statement on the rights of people with Intellectual/developmental disabilities: Every person has the right to exercise choices regarding sexual expression and social relationships. The presence of IDD, regardless of severity, does not, in itself, justify loss of rights related to sexuality. All people have the right within interpersonal relationships to:

  • Develop friendships and emotional and sexual relationships where they can love and be loved, and begin and end a relationship as they choose;
  • Dignity and respect; and
  • Privacy, confidentiality, and freedom of association

This workshop explored how to have conversations with your adult son or daughter on their rights, consent, recognize social and legal boundaries, how to stay safe and identify warning signs in friendships and relationships. You can view her presentation here 

About Dr. Laurie Sperry: Dr. Sperry is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and former assistant clinical faculty  at the Yale  and Stanford Departments of Psychiatry. Dr. Sperry’s research and clinical work focuses on people with autism spectrum disorders who come in contact with the criminal justice system to ensure their humane treatment within the system. She has served as a Special Interest Group Chairwoman at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) providing mentoring and leadership in the field of criminality and ASD. She has provided training to secure forensic psychiatric facility staff in England and presented at the International Conference for Offenders with Disabilities.