Kayla’s career originates from a research background in clinical psychology, where she conducted research investigating many areas of child psychopathology, including autism spectrum disorder, ADHD and 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. More specifically, Kayla’s published research has a translational focus, with her interests surrounding early identification of autism, management of the comorbidity between autism and ADHD, and targets for intervention aimed at improving social outcomes for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. In her clinical work, she provided diagnostic and psychological counseling services focused on improving functioning and well-being for children and adolescents with autism and other psychiatric disorders. She is an advocate for child-focused mental health and is driven to create a community where millions of children’s lives are improved from inclusive care. Kayla earned a BS in neuroscience and psychology and an MS in Clinical Psychology at Syracuse University.
Q: What is your connection to our mission?
A: Some of my earliest experiences with individuals with autism were as a facilitator for an inclusive community theater program that promoted social interactions and communication. We created a safe space for individuals with different abilities to express their creativity. As a clinician and researcher in clinical psychology, with a focus on child development, I quickly became involved in diagnostic evaluations for autism. This provided first hand experience servicing the community clinically. I have since dedicated my career to creating healthcare solutions that increase early identification of childhood disorders and access to high quality care for all children, regardless of resources or socioeconomic status. As a child focused mental health advocate, I believe that providing a diagnosis and increasing awareness is the first step towards bright outcomes for all children.
Q: Why do you love helping children?
A: Every child has an incredibly unique perspective, special talents, and creative insights. Some kiddos need a little extra support in the early years to allow them to fully flourish and express their true selves. By helping our next generations, we make our world a better place.
Q: What are your hobbies?
A: I love the outdoors and spending time hiking and paddle boarding!
Q: What (or who) inspires you?
A: My best friend’s brother, Kyle, who has taught me so much about life, with very few words. I wish I could see the world through Kyle’s eyes. He finds so much joy in everyday things that most people take for granted. Kyle and I have a special friendship because we don’t need words to communicate with each other. He has found his own way to let people know that he loves them without saying anything. It’s because of his joyful spirit that his sister became a special education teacher. It’s because of his joyful spirit that I became a researcher and clinician, working with children who have autism. Kyle has inspired me to be more like Kyle every day. To quote Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Q: Tell us about your family. Any children? What about pets?
A: I have a goofy English Springer Spaniel named Gus, who enjoys long walks, coffee shops and peanut butter.