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Arbi Kumi '21

ars nova

Major: Psychology
Bio: Arbi Kumi is a fourth-year student at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, where he is pursuing a degree in Psychology (BS) and a minor in Religious Studies on the pre-medical track. As part of his thesis research for the Psychology Honors Program, Arbi is currently examining preliminary results from an intensive summer treatment program for children with behavioral and social problems. Following graduation, Arbi hopes to attend medical school and expand his knowledge of mental health disorders.

Title of Research: Exploring the effectiveness of a virtual summer treatment program for children with behavioral and social problems: A pilot study
Mentor: Dr. Karen Siedlecki-Burgoon
Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic brought an abrupt halt to in-person mental health services across the United States, forcing a shift to video teleconferencing platforms (e.g., Zoom) as a new intervention medium. The objective of this study was to establish feasibility and examine preliminary impacts of a group-based, behavioral and social skills intervention for 5-to-10-year-old boys with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and other behavioral problems. Twelve children in July 2020 completed a four-week long virtual summer treatment program (VSTP) designed to target problem behaviors and social competence. Child attendance rate and parent satisfaction analyses suggest that the VSTP is a feasible protocol. Parent-reported child problem behaviors did not decrease significantly but mostly trended toward improvement at sub-clinical levels. Parent-reported social competency significantly increased at the end of the VSTP. These results were corroborated by observational data analyses indicating significant increases in positive behaviors (i.e., social skills) and nonsignificant changes in negative (i.e., problem) behaviors. Randomized-controlled trials should be conducted to verify the positive impacts on social skills and enhance the program’s effects on reducing behavioral problems. Advancements in this protocol have the potential to expand access to psychological care for children in rural and other disadvantaged communities beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.