This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.
In the fall of 2017, Rawan Alhawamdeh stepped onto Harvard’s campus with a vision for improving the lives of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and giftedness (which may bring with it social struggle as well as academic advantage).
When Alhawamdeh graduates from the Division of Continuing Education (DCE) with a master of liberal arts degree in psychology, she will receive a diploma to match her already-extensive resume. She established Genomics, possibly the first epigenetics-based play center in the world, and two companies, Sensory Middle East (SENSORYME) and Mind, Brain, Behavior Middle East (MBBME), all while completing her capstone project and working as an occupational therapist.
“I am so grateful for the flexibility Harvard gave me to study and work at the same time. It helped me to inform my work with evidence and to create physical spaces and therapy approaches that are usable for other therapists, in order to help more children globally,” Alhawamdeh said.
For her DCE capstone project, Alhawamdeh researched and developed an evidence-based-therapy approach to treating ASD, ADHD, and giftedness and an accompanying mobile app she calls iConcentrate. Her therapy program enables children to engage in eye contact, be attentive to other people, control hyperactive behavior, and better understand emotions, and often produces reduced symptoms within six to eight weeks.
“iConcentrate includes assessments, therapy stages, and technology that tracks children’s eye movements, attention, and brain processing speed. The therapy is interactive, and it uses non-invasive approaches that combine play with the technology in order to help with eye contact and focus,” she said.