Amy Vaughan Van Hecke, Ph.D.
(414) 288-7258
amy.vanhecke@marquette.edu

More information

Dr. Van Hecke is originally from Canton, Mississippi. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. After a research internship at the University of Portsmouth, England, Dr. Van Hecke completed her doctoral work in Developmental Psychology at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. Dr. Van Hecke then received a Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) from the National Institute of Mental Health to complete a three-year postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Dr. Van Hecke currently serves on the Executive Board of the Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin, the steering team of the statewide Community of Practice on Autism and Developmental Disabilities, and the Treatment and Intervention Advisory Committee at the Wisconsin Department of Health, Children’s Services Division. Dr. Van Hecke is co-chair, with Mikle South, PhD (Brigham Young University), and Marquette graduate student Alana McVey, of a Special Interest group on Anxiety in ASD that meets at the International Meeting for Autism Research annually.

Dr. Van Hecke enjoys reading, traveling, playing croquet, holding an annual crawfish boil, co-leading a Brownie scouts troop, and cooking Southern food for her husband, her daughters, friends, and students in her spare time. Her undergraduate students particularly enjoy her brown-sugar baked bacon.

Education

Ph.D., University of Miami
B.A., Smith College

Teaching Interests

Dr. Van Hecke enjoys teaching undergraduate Developmental Psychology: Conception through Adolescence, graduate and undergraduate Introduction to Statistics, and undergraduate Autism for the Professions (co-taught with Mary Carlson in Education and Wendy Krueger in Speech Pathology and Audiology).

Research Interests

Dr. Van Hecke is accepting applications in 2015 for a graduate student in Marquette’s Clinical Psychology PhD program, beginning 2016-17.

Dr. Van Hecke’s specialty is developmental psychology and neuroscience, with an emphasis on typical and atypical social development across the lifespan. In particular, Dr. Van Hecke is interested in brain activity, heart rate regulation, and social behavior in infants, and in teenagers and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Her past studies have focused on topics such as the development of eye contact behavior, temperament, and social skills in typically developing infants, and the activation of the brain and regulation of the heart in response to familiar and unfamiliar people in children with high-functioning autism. Dr. Van Hecke currently utilizes high-density electroencephalogram (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI, fMRI, and DTI) to record brain activity and structure in adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder. Her current work involves understanding how friendship/relationship development interventions, such as the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS: Laugeson & Frankel, 2010), affects brain structure, brain activity, anxiety, and social behavior in adolescents and young adults with autism. She is particularly interested in how remediating social isolation enhances or changes neural activity and structure. She also examines how session-to-session psychophysiological measures (heart rate, Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia, and electrodermal activity) predict treatment outcomes in ASD.  A secondary focus in Dr. Van Hecke’s lab includes a community collaborative project to ensure access to high-quality autism diagnostic screening and services for underserved, inner-city children in Milwaukee.

Selected Publications

Vaughan Van Hecke, A., Mundy, P., & Oswald, T. (in press, 2015).  Joint attention, social competence, and developmental psychopathology. D. Cicchetti and D. Cohen (Eds.), Developmental Psychopathology, 3rd Edition.  New Jersey: Wiley.

Johnson, N. & Van Hecke, A. (2015). Increasing autism awareness in inner-city churches: a brief report. The Journal of Pediatric Nursing. DOI:10.1016/j.pedn.2015.04.008

Karst, J., Vaughan Van Hecke, A., Carson, A., Stevens, S., Schohl, K., & Dolan, B. (2015).  Parent and family outcomes of PEERS: A social skills intervention for adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45, 752-765DOI: 10.1007/s10803-014-2231-6

Vaughan Van Hecke, A., Stevens, S., Carson, A.M., Dolan, B., Karst, J., Schohl, K., McKindles, R., Remmel, R., & Brockman, S. (2015).  Measuring the plasticity of social approach: A randomized controlled trial of the effects of the PEERS intervention on EEG asymmetry in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45, 316-335. DOI 10.1007/s10803-013-1883-y

Salowitz, N.M.G., Dolan, B., Remmel, R., Vaughan Van Hecke, A., Mosier, K., Simo, L., & Scheidt, R. (2014).  Simultaneous robotic manipulation and functional magnetic resonance imaging: Feasibility in children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics, 12(2), 67-73.

Carson, A.M., Gregor, N., Scheidt, R., & Vaughan Van Hecke, A. (2014).  EEG Coherence in children with and without autism spectrum disorders: Decreased inter-hemispheric connectivity in autism. Autism Research, 7, 334-343.

Schohl, K., Karst, J., Dolan, B., Stevens, S., Carson, A.M., & Vaughan Van Hecke, A. (2014). A replication and extension of the PEERS intervention: Examining effects on social skills and social anxiety in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44, 532-545.  DOI: 10.1007/s10803-013-1900-1

Salowitz, N., Karst, J., Meyer, A., Schohl, K., Stevens, S., Vaughan Van Hecke, A., & Scheidt, R. (2012). Visuo-spatial guidance of movement during gesture imitation and mirror drawing in children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, DOI: 10.1007/s10803-012-1631-8

Karst, J., & Vaughan Van Hecke, A. (2012).  Parent and family impact of autism spectrum disorders: A review and proposed model for intervention evaluation.  Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, DOI: 10.1007/s10567-012-0119-6

Vaughan Van Hecke, A., Mundy, P. C., Block, J., Delgado, C., Parlade, M.V., Pomares, Y., & Hobson, J. (2012). Infant responding to joint attention, executive processes, and attention regulation in preschool children. Infant Behavior and Development, 35, 303-311. DOI: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2011.12.001

Bal, E., Harden, E., Lamb, D., Vaughan Van Hecke, A., Denver, J., & Porges, S.W. (2009). Emotion recognition in children with autism spectrum disorders: Relations to eye gaze and autonomic state. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40, 358-370

Vaughan Van Hecke, A., Lebow, J., Bal, E., Lamb, D. Harden, E., Kramer, A., Denver, J., Bazhenova, O., & Porges, S. (2009). EEG and heart rate regulation to familiar and unfamiliar people in children with autism spectrum disorders. Child Development, 80, 1118-33

Mundy, P., Block, J., Delgado, C.,Van Hecke, A.V., Pomares, Y., & Parlade, M.V. (2007). Individual differences and the development of joint attention in infancy. Child Development, 78, 938-954.

Vaughan Van Hecke, A., Mundy, P. C., Acra, C. F., Block, J., Gomez, Y., Delgado, C.,Venezia, M., Meyer, J., Neal, R., & Pomares, Y. (2007). Infant joint attention, temperament, and social competence in preschool children. Child Development, 78, 53-69.

Meyer, J. A., Mundy, P., Van Hecke, A.V., & Durocher, J. S. (2006). Social-attribution processes and comorbid psychiatric symptoms in children with Asperger syndrome. Autism, 10, 383-402.

Vaughan, A., Mundy, P., Block, J., Burnette, C., Delgado, C., Gomez, Y., Meyer, J., Neal, R., & Pomares, Y. (2003). Child, caregiver, and temperament contributions to infant joint attention. Infancy, 4, 603-616.

Sutton, S., Burnette, C., Mundy, P., Meyer, J., Vaughan, A., Sanders, C., & Yale, M. (2005). Resting cortical brain activity, social impairments, and comorbidity in high functioning children with autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 46, 211-222.

In press:

Bal, E., Harden, E., Lamb, D., Vaughan Van Hecke, A., Denver, J., & Porges, S.W. (2009). Emotion recognition in children with autism spectrum disorders: Relations to eye gaze and autonomic state. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.


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