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Regional Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Hunter College

Information, Inspiration, and Best Practice


Professor Shirley Cohen, PhD., Director

Professor Shirley Cohen, whose in developmental psychology, is a specialist in early childhood special education and autism spectrum disorders. Her experiences include teaching young children, serving as a consultant to school programs, and holding various administrative positions at Hunter College.   From 1971-81 Dr. Cohen directed the Special Education Development Center, which focused on the development of special education training materials.  She also served as chairperson of the Special Education Department; and then Assistant Dean, Associate Dean, and Interim Dean of the School of Education.  Professor Cohen has directed city, state, federal, and foundation grants.
Professor Cohen has taught numerous special education courses at Hunter College over the years, but she has recently specialized in teaching a course on autism spectrum disorders, both to students in the Early Childhood Special Education program at Hunter, which she designed, and to new staff of the NYC Department of Education’s ASD Nest program, which she co-designed. She is the author of three books, the latest of which—Targeting Autism, University of California Press, 2006—is in its third edition.


Elyse Braun, M.A., Assistant to the Director

Elyse Braun received her B.A. in Psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and her M.A in Counseling from Appalachian State University.   She completed the coursework for the Master’s of Public Health at New York University.   Elyse also completed a federally funded training program for Special Education Advocates and served as a Family Advocate for several years.   Her work history includes over 30 years of experience related to special needs populations including work in recreation and life skills, group home supervision and special education teaching.  Elyse is the parent of three terrific children, with disabilities, one of them with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.


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