Sydney Terroso

Sydney Terroso is a senior from York, PA graduating with a degree in Psychology. While her absolute favorite course during her time at Yale has been Autism and Related Disorders, the EDST Senior Colloquium and Project course has been the most impactful. “I have received more feedback from mentors and peers in EDST 400 and EDST 410 than in most of my other courses combined!” she explains. “It has been a tough process, but through this process, I have learned so much about my capstone topic and the many tangential topics my project encompasses.”
Sydney’s capstone project was sparked this past summer while she completed research for her psychology thesis on group therapy’s effect on the social-communicative skills and quality of life of autistic adults. As she sat in on group therapy sessions week after week, she couldn’t help but wonder why many of her participants felt failed by their educational experience. Once she started discussing it with them, she learned that many of their “educational experiences centered around the fact… that they were constantly being told what was wrong with them, instead of focusing on their strengths and adjusting their environment to fit their needs.”
From this experience and through engagement with current special education pedagogy, disability theory, and queer theory, she decided to center her capstone on the social model of disability. This is the model, she argues, that should be utilized in schools to better support autistic students. “Instead of seeing autism as an inherent problem within a student that needs to be fixed or cured…,” she says, “[we need to] identify and address external environmental, attitudinal, and organizational factors in society that make it difficult for disabled individuals to function in society.” In addition to discussing the merits of the social model of disability, her capstone compiles preliminary recommendations on how elementary school teachers can implement the social model of disability within the classroom.
Post graduation, Sydney is excited to spend two years performing research in the Ventola Lab at the Yale Child Study Center, after which she hopes to apply to a PhD program for clinical psychology.