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Psych Students Get Inside Look at the Life Within the Lesson

  • December 29, 2011
John Harris doesn't mind public speaking. Yes, he admits to being a little nervous at first each time he does it, but he feels he has a duty to do it. In fact, he considers it "a goodwill mission."
John Harris doesn't mind public speaking. Yes, he admits to being a little nervous at first each time he does it, but he feels he has a duty to do it. In fact, he considers it "a goodwill mission."

Harris also doesn't like sitting in the classroom for the first 20 minutes listening to his mom Karen Harris tell their life story -- how Asperger's syndrome has affected every moment of their life since he came into the world 28 years ago. So he sits outside the classroom of Rajesh Kana, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, and waits for her to finish.

The Harrises were invited by Kana to speak to his Autism: Brain and Cognition (PY354) class -- an undergraduate psychology course that gives students a comprehensive overview of autism from cognitive, behavioral and neuroscience perspectives. Kana's students are listening to a parent and child talk about Asperger's, a syndrome on the autism spectrum disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. Classmate Andrew Rozsa and his father had spoken to them the week prior about the UAB senior's life-long battle with Asperger's.