Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College


Grace Baron

Grace Baron

Professor of Psychology, Emerita

Ph.D., M.A., Boston College

Main Interests

Stress CoverClinical Work:

For over 34 years, Providence, RI's Groden Network has been the primary setting for my clinical and research activities in behavioral psychology. The leadership of its founders, June and Gerald Groden, has made the Groden Center the area's most comprehensive and best provider of life-long, individualized services to children and adults on the autism spectrum. Wheaton students serve there in volunteer, internships, practicum, research and employment positions. Wheaton alums currently employed at the Groden Center include

  • Matthew Goodwin, Psychology '98
    Associate Director of Research
  • Amy Diller, Psychology '93
    Director, Training and Instruction
  • Dana Hajj, '88
    Coordinator, Respite Services

A co-edited volume, Stress, Coping & Autism (Oxford University Press, 2006) summarizes my long interest in reducing stress and enhancing capabilities such as self-control in persons with autism and other disabilities.

It was my amazing good fortune in the late 60s and early 70s to be a graduate student with Joseph R. Cautela, one of the founders of modern behavior analysis and therapy. He taught me the excitement of a bio-psycho-social approach to human behavior, the utility of systematic behavioral analysis and intervention, and gave me the courage to use these tools to understand the diversity of human behavior including private events (usually anathema to behaviorists) clinical problems such as self-injury, and social issues such as HIV prevention.

Research Interests

  • Multimodal assessment of stress and coping in persons with autism
  • Applied behavior analysis in educational, human service and other organizational settings
  • The role of mercury and other toxins in child development and human behavior

Other Interests

AUTISM: For over 30 years, my clinical work (primarily at the Providence, RI Groden Center) has emphasized the teaching of self-control or self-management to persons with autism.

I particularly enjoy supervising teams of clinicians as they plan and carry out a six-week intake evaluation that includes a functional behavior analysis and generates comprehensive treatment programs which incorporate clinical strategies such as the use of the relaxation response and imagery-based rehearsal.

EXPERIENTIAL TEACHING & LEARNING: I have enjoyed being a part of Wheaton College's long tradition of integrating experiential teaching and learning to create rich and exciting liberal arts curriculum.

MERCURY HYPOTHESIS in AUTISM: In partnership with Prof. Jani Benoit, a researcher specializing in mercury, I am studying the possible role that mercury (and other toxins) may have in the expression of autism.

GENETICS of AUTISM: Prof. Betsey Dyer and I regularly teach together about this topic. See Wheaton's Connections Curriculum to see how we connect our courses on this topic.

MAPPING AUTISM with GIS: What can maps help us see about the incidence of autism and the factors that are associated with autism?

WHEATON COLLEGE INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD (IRB): Serving on this committee for over 15 years has given me a wonderful way to know the human subjects research done on our college campus.


Goodwin, MS, Groden, J, Velicer, WF, Lipsitt, LP, Baron, MG, Hofmann, SG, & Groden, G. (2006). "Cardiovascular arousal in individuals with autism." Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 21(2), pp. 100-123.

G. Baron, J. Groden, G. Groden & L. Lipsitt (Eds.) Stress and Coping in Autism. Expected publication: Summer 2005, Oxford University Press.

Groden, J., M.Goodwin, G. Baron, L.Lipsitt, W. Velicer. Heart rate response to stress in autism. Manuscript under review, 2005.

J. Hubelbank & G. Baron (2003/2004) What faculty say about implementing service learning in higher education. National Society for Experiential Education Quarterly, 28(4).

J. Sanborn & G. Baron (2003) Value or vehicle: Service learning?s role in a college curriculum. Massachusetts Campus Compact Newsletter (December)

G Baron & E. Pfeiffer (1999). Flying a plane while building it: Coping strategies for service practitioners. In Making Service Integral. A publication of the Massachusetts Campus Compact, Tufts University Lincoln Filene Center,Medford, MA., pp. 23-25.

G. Baron (1996). Behaviorial analysis and HIV prevention: A call to action. In J.R. Cautela & W. Ishag (Eds.), Improving the Human Condition. Plenum, N.Y.

Professional Presentations

  • March 29, 2007 (with June Groden)
    Stress and Anxiety: Assessment and Coping Strategies. Presentation to the Annual Autism Symposium, Providence, RI
  • January 22, 2007
    Stress & Coping in Autism. Presented in Grand Rounds at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York.
  • January 18, 2007
    Stress & Coping in Autism: Theory, Research, & Practice. Workshop for the Irish Institute, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA.

Student Projects

Julia Kearns Carmody '09
Stress in adolescents with acquired brain injury: An exploratory study

Dana Peterson '07
Social stimli and change blindness

Kelly Neale '04
Assessing health-related quality of life of children treated for brain tumors

Catherine Oettinger '04
A Bug crawled in, a bug flied out: an exploration of children's concepts and scripts of illness

Lisa Litner '03
Teaching social skills to children: a proposed investigation of sharing

Lauren Trudeau '03
History of community service on college campuses

Laura Steele '99
Comunidad Los Horcones: Applied Behavior Analysis in an experimental community

Matthew Goodwin '98
Whole Child Perspective: Understanding individuals with autism

Eric Tomasini '97
Origins of the God concept: attributes of parents and God

Elizabeth Glotzer '85
Peer modeling of computer skills: the effect of sex of subject, sex of model and number of models on an observe's performance

Lisa Stormont '85
The relationship between locus of control and students programming styles using a computer graphics program

Susan Scoville '81
Application of two relaxation techniques to induce muscle tension reduction in autistic subjects

Wendy Drucker '80
The use of covert reinforcement procedures to increase the verbal interaction of autistic children in the classroom