Webinar: HEARTS – A healthy relationships class for autistic people co-taught with autistic teachers

April 7, 2022 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Programs Team
(703) 243-9762

HEARTS: A healthy relationships class for autistic people co-taught with autistic teachers

Learn about this relationship-building class that was designed collaboratively with autistic people.
Presented by Emily F. Rothman, ScD, Laura Graham Holmes, PhD, and Reid Caplan


Healthy Relationships on the Autism Spectrum (HEARTS) is a six-session online class to support autistic adults who want to strengthen their friendships and dating relationships. HEARTS is different from other social skills classes in that it was designed collaboratively with autistic people and uses a team-teaching approach involving one autistic and one non-autistic teacher. In this webinar, we will describe why and how we developed the content of the HEARTS class, how we partnered with the organization AANE to deliver it, results of our pilot test, and why autistic/non-autistic co-teaching teams are essential for the neurodiversity-embracing approach.


About the Presenters

Emily F. Rothman, ScD, is Professor and Chair of Occupational Therapy at Boston University. Dr. Rothman has conducted research on adolescent and young adult health for more than two decades, with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Justice, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Department of Defense, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Organization for Autism Research, and other entities. Her primary focus has been on the development and testing of interventions to prevent dating and sexual violence, with a recent emphasis on how to promote healthy relationship skills for autistic and other neurodiverse individuals. Her program of research has focused on marginalized populations and addressing health inequity.


Laura Graham Holmes, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor at the Silberman School of Social Work, CUNY Hunter College. Dr. Graham Holmes completed her capstone clinical training at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) as a fellow in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program and the Center for Autism Research. Dr. Holmes then completed postdoctoral fellowships at the A. J. Drexel Autism Institute and the Boston University School of Public Health. Her agenda is to improve social-behavioral interventions for autistic adolescents and adults to enhance quality of life, with a focus on participatory and mixed-methods research. She is particularly interested in under-researched but important facets of life for autistic people such as sexuality, sexual and gender minority identities, and substance use.


Reid Caplan is a PhD student in Social Policy from the Heller School at Brandeis University. Their research works to promote community inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), with a focus on cognitively accessible and participatory action-based projects. In addition, Reid previously served as the Associate Director of Advocacy and Development at The Autistic Self Advocacy Network, a national disability policy nonprofit made by and for autistic people.


OAR’s archived webinars can be accessed here.

If you have any questions or comments about this event or if you would like to request specific webinar topics for the future, please contact us at programs@researchautism.org or call 703-243-9762.


  •  Free to Participate


  •  Employment
  •  Recorded and Archived


  •  Certificate of Attendance