THE SCUDDER FAMILY
have found it special to be part of the Eagles and EAF family and experience firsthand how the organization brings people together under the lens of autism – across all platforms and even throughout the gameday experience. “Football is an incredibly engaging platform-with a 60K seat stadium and television broadcasts- it opens the door to connect with people who may not otherwise be reached,” notes Ashley. Head Coach Nick Sirriani’s “first core value is connecting,” says Tyler. “The ability of the Eagles and EAF to connect people in the autism community and be a support for each other is special.” Adding to the fun is seeing that Eagle’s players, coaches, and their families (including the Scudder’s 3 boys) get involved and connect with the community in events like the Eagles Autism Challenge. Deepening the connection, Ashley has worked for a number of years with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disability Services’ Evidence-Based Practice Innovation Center (EPIC; now part of Community Behavioral Health), who is an EAF Community Grant recipient. EPIC will provide PCIT and autism-specific training to Philadelphia-based Black and Latino/a clinicians through this initiative. The project team hopes that continuing to build capacity for PCIT providers who have shared experiences, culture, and language with the families served will support access to care. Ashley remarks that “The EAF has made this new initiative feel really special. It has generated excitement and interest within the behavioral health community.” Many people are surprised to learn about how much of a community is involved in football and coaching and the level of expertise that is involved in making sure that all the work pays off on the field. But the Eagle’s get this- just like a village to raise a child- we are much stronger as a community. The Eagles Autism Foundation and autism community are lucky to have the Scudders as part of the family.
clinics to the sensory room built into our stadium,” Tyler adds. “Our desire to support communities, kids and families, especially children with autism has been connecting for us as well.” Ashley’s work with autism began while completing her postdoc at the University of Pittsburgh. Ashley had the opportunity to collaborate with Benjamin Handen, PhD and train clinicians at the University of Pittsburgh Merck Child and Adolescent Outpatient Clinic, known internationally for their expertise in
a Coaches’ Assistant for the Eagles, part of Tyler’s job involves helping to break down plays and tendencies. As a Clinical Psychologist, Ashley does something very similar in her work connected to Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), a coaching-based model, which supports parents to develop specialized techniques to address the most difficult behaviors in children under 7 years of age. PCIT was developed to address high levels of aggression, noncompliance, and tantrums as well as to support families who may have experienced trauma, child physical abuse, or extreme stress. Ashley is one of the first scientists in the world to examine PCIT with children on the autism spectrum. Unlike in football, there is no playbook for parenting. Through coaching, PCIT empowers parents to become experts in specialized strategies to support their child in learning how to get along better socially, communicate, and develop emotion regulation skills. “Part of what makes PCIT so effective is that parents are an active part of the child’s clinical team. Just like in football, PCIT clinician coaches are there to support parents as they prepare for the big game of life – parenting their child at home, school and in public places such as managing the tantrum in the grocery store or a meltdown on the bus,” says Ashley. When the opportunity arose for Tyler and Ashley to come to Philadelphia, it felt like synergy marrying a career opportunity and their connection to autism. When Tyler was hired at Plymouth State University for his first college coaching job, he needed an additional source of income. He took this opportunity to become a para-support professional working with a 3rd grade boy with autism. That early position provided Tyler exposure to the autism community as well as the daily struggles and triumphs of a child living on the autism spectrum. This experience had a powerful impact on Tyler, which he has carried with him throughout his career. “I want all children with autism to get to feel the community created by the Eagle’s Autism Foundation- from the sensory shot
Tyler and Ashley Scudder are good at making connections and creating community- both professionally and personally. They credit football for taking them many places in the early years of their relationship and allowing them to continue to build great friends and colleagues across the US. Some might think of the duo as a unique match professionally; however, there is more that connects them than meets the eye. Both recognize the gift of coaching-helping another person reach their goals. As
“The ability of the Eagles and EAF to
autism and other developmental conditions. Ashley collaborated with Ben on the first randomized trial of full PCIT intervention for children with autism under the age of 7 years. For many years, there was hesitation that PCIT may not be as effective for children on the autism spectrum (compared to peers), yet it may be the community that needed it the most. “We know that parents of children with autism who are 5 years and younger experience greater difficulties with behavior. Additionally, PCIT is strengths-based, it does not attempt to change the child but instead provides supportive, effective strategies, and nurtures the relationship between the parent and child,” says Ashley. Having admired the work from afar, Tyler and Ashley connect people in the autism community and be a support for each other is special.”
The Scudder family at the 2021 Eagles Autism Challenge.
Cyclists cross the finish line at the 50-yard line of Lincoln Financial Field.
2021 Eagles Autism Foundation
2021 Eagles Autism Foundation eaglesautismfoundation.org
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