Andrew Rubin (Ph.D. PSYC ’01) is the executive director and founder of New Directions for Young Adults, Inc. and chairman of the board for the International Society for Autism (ISA, isaresearch.org ), a non-profit organization funding scholarships for programs serving young adults with a range of psychopathology. In addition, the ISA actively engages in research on evidence-based treatment interventions.
Rubin recalls one of his clients, a man with disabilities, who presented at his clinic with profound intellectual impairments, to the degree that clinical staff doubted his ability to function and live independently. “Now, he’s one of our most successful clients and is employed full-time, has a driver’s license, and has done things that his parents could never have imagined,” says Rubin. “To have been a part of this experience is an amazing feeling.”
In addition to his passion for improving the lives of young adults with disabilities, Rubin has been a longtime poker aficionado, a recreational habit he took up while completing a post-doctoral internship in clinical psychology at Tulane University, New Orleans. His finely-honed skills netted him over a quarter million dollars at the 37th Annual World Series of Poker. (IIT Article). This unexpected windfall enabled Rubin to pursue a longstanding dream of establishing a multidisciplinary treatment clinic/program devoted to Dt®, an innovative therapeutic approach.
Six years after graduating from IIT College of Psychology, Rubin opened New Directions for Young Adults, a flagship facility in Deerfield Beach, Florida, treating individuals with a multitude of diagnoses. The cornerstone of the clinic is Dt® or Direction Therapy CMT® (Coordinated Multidisciplinary Treatment). This innovative intervention program, which Rubin initially designed for young adults with autism, integrates Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, developmental theory, and neuropsychology into an evidence-based treatment approach.
Created to help young adults 18-and-older transition to independence, New Directions has been shown to have one of the highest success rates in comparison to other transitional programs in the United States. Clients live in their own apartments and participate in individual and group therapy, vocational training, academic support, life-management skill training, financial skills training, and a variety of social activities. The International Society for Autism, which Rubin chairs, focuses on research, funding, and vocational placement services.
IIT doctoral students working under Clinical Psychology Professor Robert Schleser—Rubin’s mentor—are providing valuable data for the program through research evaluating an array of significant factors accounting for long-term transitional success using the Direction Therapy CMT model. Early research results on Piagetian developmental transitions indicate that organic brain deficits may account for much of the stereotypical behavior patterns associated with autism. This finding Rubin says “may have several implications for best practices when it comes to the treatment of autism and related developmental disorders.” The results of another recent study were presented by IIT students at the Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association in early May. More studies are in progress.
“It wasn’t until I looked back on my education that I realized what a strong foundation I had in Piagetian concepts and human development. This has certainly carried me through to today—and I was very fortunate to be in a laboratory (i.e., Lab 277) where I was able to explore a lot of those ideas,” Rubin explains. “Coming to IIT was one of the best things that ever happened to me.”
Extending innovation and entrepreneurship beyond work to philanthropy, Drew made a generous gift to the Fueling Innovation Campaign by establishing The Sidney Rubin Clinical Psychology Fellowship and Research Fund, the first fellowship created exclusively for clinical students. Thank you Drew!