TribLIVE

| Neighborhoods


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

McCandless woman honored for autism research

Submitted
Diane Williams of McCandless, a speech-language pathology associate professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, was named the Anna Rangos Rizakus Endowed Chair in Health Sciences and Ethics at Duquesne in 2013.
By Melanie Donahoo
Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
 

Children with autism sometimes have difficulty learning to communicate effectively.

The research of Diane Williams of McCandless, a speech-language pathology associate professor at Duquesne University since 2006, is geared toward helping those with autism communicate better. Because of her research, Williams recently was named the Anna Rangos Rizakus Endowed Chair in Health Sciences and Ethics at Duquesne.

“Breaking through that communication barrier is what can make a really big difference for an individual,” said Williams, 59.

“If you can't communicate well with other people, then that really limits your ability to be a part of society.”

Autism is a developmental disorder in the brain that is characterized by impaired social and verbal function.

Williams's research uses a type of magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, to collect images of the brain while the participant does simple tasks, such as reading.

“We can tell which parts of the brain are being used while the individuals are actively doing a task,” Williams said.

“That helps us learn more about how their brains work when processing language.”

Because autism is a spectrum disorder, people who have the condition can range from being unable to communicate at all to having some ability to speak and perform tasks.

The Anna Rangos Rizakus Chair allows the faculty member more time to concentrate on research with a break in her teaching load for a five-year term.

Department heads nominate faculty, and the final decision is made by Duquesne's president, Charles Dougherty.

Mikael Kimelman, associate professor and chairman of the department of speech-language pathology, nominated Williams for the position.

“Dr. Williams' work is embedded in an ethical expression of the need for scientists and clinical practitioners to work together to solve the pressing challenges faced by people with autism and their families,” said Kimelman, 58, of Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

Melanie Donahoo is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read North Hills

  1. McCandless library offers chance to ‘Meet Our Local Authors’
  2. Gala in Hampton to raise money for scholarship program
  3. North Hills assistant superintendents get raises with extended contracts
  4. New Shaler North Hills Library program makes participants smile
  5. Hampton event to look for middle ground, discuss ‘Gun Safety in a Free Society’
  6. Grandmother’s illness leads Shaler Area student to join cancer fight
  7. ‘A Chours Line’ featuring Pine-Richland flavor
  8. Pine-Richland pushes up final day of classes to June 5
  9. North Hills Rock Orchestra performs to a different beat
  10. Marshall Mangler features running, bike races on North Park trails
  11. North Allegheny graduates on PSU homecoming court
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.