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Stibel Dennett Consortium for Brain and Cognitive Science

Eileen Crehan

Assistant Professor
Eliot Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development

Eileen Crehan

Assistant Professor
Eliot Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development

Phone 617-627-3355
Room 164
105 College Avenue, Medford, MA

Current Projects

  • Sexuality education survey: This survey assesses for autistic symptoms and exposure to and satisfaction with sexuality education programming. This survey is being distributed nationally to adults with and without autism and their caregivers.
  • Sexuality education programming: This study offers sexuality education programs to teens and young adults with autism spectrum disorder.
  • Eye tracking and the stare-in-the crowd effect: The stare-in-the-crowd (SITC) effect describes the phenomenon of quickly detecting self-directed gaze in a crowd. This effect has been observed to be impacted by the presence of autistic symptoms in young adults using eye tracking paradigms. Currently, we are seeking to describe this phenomenon in adolescents and children, and to understand how the SITC presents across a range of psychological disorders and characteristics.
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Autism Assessment, Research, and Treatment Services (AARTS) Center, Rush University Medical Center
APPIC Internship, University of Alabama, Birmingham Medical Center-VA Consortium, LEND Trainee
Ph.D., University of Vermont, Clinical Psychology
B.A., Wellesley College, Mathematics and Psychology

Neurodevelopmental disorders; autism spectrum disorder; sexuality education; social perception; eye tracking; dimensional measurement of psychological symptoms

Research Interests: 

As a clinical scientist, my research efforts center on social impairments and social functioning of adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder. My work employs eye tracking and psychophysiological monitoring systems to capture the nuances of social perception and response. I have applied these approaches to better understand social cognition in ASD, as well as to examine how social communication and perspective-taking impact gaze behavior, emotion perception, and physiological arousal transdiagnostically. In addition to perception, I am interested in the development of programming relating to sexuality and relationship formation for autistic individuals. I seek to address content limitations and accessibility challenges relating to current sexuality education programs. My work seeks to improve the rigor of sex education research through integration of both clinical trial and implementation research methodologies, with the goal of developing educational programming which addresses critical issues such as sexuality, pursuing and maintaining relationships, and physical and emotional safety. The role of self-advocates and family advocates in the design and implementation of my research is very important to me.

Selected Professional Activities: 
  • Ad Hoc Reviewer to: Journal of Adolescent and Child Psychiatry, Molecular Autism, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, and Sexuality and Disability
Professional Memberships: 
Member of American Psychological Association, International Society for Autism Research, and the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality
Selected Publications and Presentations: 

Burns, A., Crehan, E.T., & Loftin, R. Problem solving in sexuality education. Presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, 2017. San Francisco, CA.

Crehan, E.T. Approaches to sexuality education in autism spectrum disorder. Invited workshop to be presented at the National Autistic Society, April 2018, Birmingham, England.

Crehan, E.T. Sexuality education and intimate relationships in ASD: A training for service providers. Workshop hosted at Rush University Medical Center, February 2018, Chicago, IL.

Crehan, E.T. Sexuality in autism. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, 2017. Atlanta, GA.

Crehan, E.T. & Althoff, R.R. (2015). Measuring the stare-in-the-crowd effect: A new paradigm to study social perception. Behavior Research Methods. 47(4).

Crehan, E.T., Frering, H., & Althoff, R.R. The Stare-in-the-Crowd Effect: How We Notice When Others Look at Us and How This Is Affected By Psychopathology. Presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research, 2016. Baltimore, MD.

Crehan, E.T., Woodruff, H., Giroux, A., & Althoff, R.R. Social behavior and emotion regulation. Presented at Association for Psychological Science Convention. 2015. New York, NY.

Hough, S., DenBoer, J., Crehan, E.T., Stone, M. (2017). Sex therapy with clients with cognitive and intellectual disabilities. In Z. Peterson (Ed), The Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Sex Therapy. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Hough, S., Warren, A.M., Crehan, E.T. (2015). Sexuality education and persons with disabilities. In J. Ponzetti, Jr. (Ed), Evidence Based Approaches to Sexuality Education: A Global Perspective. New York: Taylor & Francis/Psychology Press.

Teaching/Courses Taught: 
CSHD 143: Autism Across the Lifespan
CSHD 193: Pediatric Psychology
CSHD: Gender and Sexuality

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