Biomechanics Scholar and Autism Expert Honored with National Award

Dr. Jody Jensen, an expert on balance and locomotor skills over the lifespan in the College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin, has received the Ruth B. Glassow Biomechanics Award by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

The annual award honors one biomechanics scholar who has made significant contributions to applied biomechanics research, provided outstanding service to the Biomechanics Research Academy and aggressively communicated biomechanics knowledge to practitioners.

Jensen is a professor in the College of Education's Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, a member of the Institute for Neuroscience and director of research for the University of Texas Autism Project (UTAP). The focus of her studies has been the biomechanical and neurophysiological factors influencing skill acquisition in infants and children and motor performance declines in older adults. Jensen has received research funding from the American Federation for Aging Research, National Science Foundation and National Institute on Aging.

For the last five years, Jensen has collaborated with UTAP program Director Pamela Buchanan to develop undergraduate teaching resources and offer professional development and parent training on developmental issues surrounding children with autism.

Over the past year, the Autism Project has earned national attention for its highly effective approach to working with children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Co-directors Buchanan and Jensen teach families, educators and clinicians how to use strategic play intervention to help children with autism develop basic life skills and integrate more smoothly into their various environments. The program also works to promote the most recent scientific findings in autism intervention, encourage community partnerships, give university students learning opportunities and generate new knowledge about ASD.

The Dell Foundation recently honored UTAP with a "Volunteers of Distinction" award, stating that the program "serves as a center of excellence for services, knowledge and best practices for living and working with children with autism spectrum disorders."

Jensen and her students also received The University of Texas at Austin's Outstanding Faculty Volunteer Award and Outstanding Student Volunteer Organization Award for the sensory and motor integration training they offer children with autism and their families.