Patten’s research explores the efficacy of interventions in public schools for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. The AOTA award recognizes her work in the area of “strength-based” and client-directed practice.
“What I'm being recognized for really got its start with colleagues and students when I was a faculty member at Temple,” Patten says. “It started me on a path of looking at strength-based practice.”
The strength-based approach to practice that she began exploring in projects at Temple represented a departure from approaches focusing on deficiencies. For example, she explains, if a child on the autism spectrum is focused on trains, rather than taking away trains and rewarding him when he does not talk about them, a strength-based model says, “Wow, he's got an incredible wealth of knowledge about trains. How do we utilize that information? How do we build pathways to vocations that are based on strengths rather than remediated weaknesses?”
Patten will receive the award at the AOTA annual conference in April 2021 and deliver a lecture to the conference the following year. She was nominated for the AOTA award by Beth Pfeiffer, associate professor in the Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, who teaches courses and mentors research in the occupational therapy program.