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From Clinical Trials to Classroom Commitment, NIMH Expertise Benefits Students

One parent's goal to improve the classroom environment.


Lisa Greeman: You know, I think participating in the research at NIMH has had an enormous beneficial impact on my family.

Announcer: The research Lisa Greenman talks about was an NIMH clinical trial for children with Aspergers Syndrome -- children like her own young son...who was seven years old at the time. NIMH researchers had developed an exercise designed to mitigate frustration in children by teaching them relaxation techniques.

Lisa Greenman: He had just aged into eligibility for a study that was a medication trial and what we learned from our participation in that study shaped his future in all kinds of ways. It really taught me about the importance of understanding social learning and the ways in which brain differences might affect social learning. I got a better understanding of the significance of anxiety and the way it affects behavior. The importance of having a high degree of structure and predictability in the environment.

Announcer: Lisa wondered why these science based techniques couldn’t be used in special education classrooms. And it was a question she wanted to ask educators at Ivymount- a highly regarded special education school in Rockville Maryland.

Lisa Greenman: I ended up coming together with a group of clinicians from the community and parents of kids in the community and approaching Ivymount, and asking them- well, begging them really- to start a program that would take what they had at their core and graft onto it this cognitive piece, you know, providing an academic program that was appropriate for kids who had average to above average to, you know, really extraordinary intellectual abilities. I came out of the study at NIMH with a really strong sense of what was needed for my child and an understanding, uh- you know I’ve been a public defender for 25 years and so I’m, you know, out there in a community that’s not as well resourced as my own family. And I know that if there’s something that’s not available for my child and I’m able to look every for it that there are lots of people who have this need as well.

Announcer: Eventually, Ivymount said yes to implementing the science based techniques Lisa and her family had experienced at NIMH.

Lisa Greenman: I say that when we were in this study at NIMH we got better care than money can buy. There isn’t a way that you can go out into the community and purchase the quality of care that my son and our family received there. I mean I was incredibly grateful to these folks and would just, you know, walk through fire for them.