Y.A.L.E. School News

Y.A.L.E. School’s March Guest Speaker Series: Sexuality Across the Autism Spectrum

Each year, Y.A.L.E. School invites expert speakers to discuss topics of interest to families, educators, and other professionals involved in the field of disabilities. This winter, Y.A.L.E. School’s Autism and Social Learning programs will host two special events focused on the topic of sexuality and sexual development in adolescents on the autism spectrum.  Both events offer professional development credits or CEU credits for educators and professionals. 

On Friday, March 27th, Y.A.L.E. School’s Autism Programs – which operate campuses in Audubon, Deptford, Voorhees, and Mullica Township – will sponsor an intensive program for professionals and parents featuring autism expert and behaviorist Dr. Frank Cicero, PhD, BCBA.

Autism and Sexuality: Encouraging Appropriate, Safe, & Healthy Behaviors is a comprehensive, full-day workshop designed for those who teach and/or care for students with ASDs who have limited abilities and require a direct applied behavior analytic (ABA) approach to instruction. The workshop will guide parents, educators, therapists, clinicians, and service providers in the use of ABA approaches to help promote appropriate sexual behaviors and sexual expression. Cicero will discuss complex and sometimes sensitive topics such as sexual development, sexuality knowledge, sexual behaviors – both appropriate and inappropriate, issues regarding consent and common parent concerns. He will present concrete strategies including reinforcement-based procedures, video modeling, task analysis schedules, picture activity schedules, scripts and script fading, and social stories.

Dr. Cicero is the Director of Psychological Services for the Eden II Programs, an ABA program in New York State serving children and adults on the autism spectrum. He is a New York State Licensed Psychologist with nearly 20 years of experience providing ABA programs for children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). He is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, a Certified School Psychologist, and the President-Elect of the New York State Association for Behavior Analysis (NYSABA). He is renowned for his straightforward approach to addressing the difficult and uncomfortable topic of sexuality in those with autism.

The workshop will be held at Camden County College in Blackwood, NJ. Professionals are eligible to receive (6) six Type-II BACB CEU credits or (6) six professional development credits for educators. The registration fee includes a continental breakfast and afternoon refreshments (lunch is on your own). To buy tickets and to see the complete workshop schedule and details, please go to yaleschool.com/cicero.

Parents of students who attend Y.A.L.E. may register for free (contact the campus office for an online promo code).


On March 18, our Cherry Hill campus will host author and autism self-advocate Amy Gravino, MA, together with Kristin Pragle, MSW, LCSW for a program called Autism and Sexuality: Self-Esteem, Relationships, Safety, and Risks. This two-hour program will address issues and concerns around relationships and sexuality for adolescents and young adults who are verbal, are more independent, and can benefit from less behavior-based instruction.

During the presentation, Gravino and Pragle will discuss puberty, self-esteem and body image, crushes, dating, online dating, intimacy, empowerment, and break-ups, as well as issues of sexual safety, legal pitfalls, and sex-specific evaluations,

Gravino, who draws from her own experiences as a young woman on the autism spectrum, is the president of A.S.C.O.T. Coaching, LLC, and the Director of Public and Community Relations for GRASP. Her work has been published in Reader’s Digest’s “The Best Life Stories,” Autism Spectrum Quarterly Magazine, and the Autism Speaks blog. Gravino is currently authoring The Naughty Autie, a memoir of her experiences with dating, relationships, and sexuality.

Kristin Pragle, MSW, LCSW, is a Certified School Social Worker at Y.A.L.E. School. Pragle received her master’s degree in social work from Rutgers University, where she also received a certification in violence against women and children. She completed post-graduate training in the assessment and treatment of sexually abusive youth through the Second Chance Program run by the NJ Juvenile Justice Commission and has over ten years of experience working with students on the autism spectrum. In addition to her work at Y.A.L.E., Pragle provides counseling services to children and adolescents through private practice.

This event is free and open to the public, and it is particularly relevant to parents of students who attend one of Y.A.L.E. School’s Social Learning campuses: Cedar Creek, Cherry Hill, Mansfield Township, Medford, and Northern Burlington. Guests must RSVP online in advance at yaleschool.com/gravino before the night of the event.


To learn more about past guest speakers and workshops, visit yaleschool.com/tag/guest-speakers.

To view upcoming events that are open to parents and the public, go to yaleschool.com/category/events.


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