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Maria Johnson, MA, CCC-SLP

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Director, Youth and Family Innovations Lead Research Clinician and Trainer, Charisma Virtual Social Coaching

Maria Johnson is a dynamic leader and speaker at the forefront of leveraging the technology to engage with individuals in creative, high-impact ways. She is committed to connecting and assisting youth and young adult organizations, clinicians, teachers and families, helping them – through research and development of evidence-based, research-supported solutions – discover how to best support social, emotional and cognitive brain health and performance for neurodiverse minds.
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Key Research and Publications

With more than 20 years of clinical expertise working with individuals with neurodiverse minds, Maria is passionate about building awareness and connecting communities of social learners across the globe. To further enhance understanding of virtual learning and the important role cognition and perspective have on social brain health, her team’s work has now expanded programs from individual, research-focused studies to offering real-world opportunities for students, schools, and social coaches to take advantage of Charisma™ Virtual Social Coaching using BrainHealth®'s proprietary virtual platform.

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The Power of Connection

What is your brain doing today? We often think about health, but when was the last time you were asked about your brain health during a wellness exam?
Maria Johnson’s talk at the 2021 When Life Hands You Teenagers explores one of the greatest public health challenges of all time – how to empower communities and students with the tools to protect their most precious resource.
Focusing on the teenage brain, Maria demonstrates how to strengthen cognitive capacity and control feelings, thoughts and habits using science-backed strategies. Like other researchers at Center for BrainHealth, Maria’s work focuses on translating scientific discoveries to deliver actionable tools and programming to help communities.

Mental Health Awareness With Maria

Feeling overwhelmed or drained of energy? May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
Maria Johnson shares a practical tool – heart-centered breathing – used to synchronize your brain and body, helping you feel more relaxed, calm and creative. Strategies like this provide actionable ways to help enhance your mental health, brain health and performance.
From our family at the Center for BrainHealth to yours, we wish you a very happy and brain healthy Mental Health Awareness Month.

Virtual Reality at Center for BrainHealth

What if your most daunting aspiration was to make a friend? For many individuals on the autism spectrum, reading facial expressions and knowing how to respond are confusing daily challenges, creating barriers to relationships and career goals. Cognitive neuroscientists, clinicians and game developers at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas have created a virtual reality platform to help individuals on the autism spectrum, and those with social cognition differences, achieve social and economic independence. Currently part of a research collaboration between the Center for BrainHealth and Yale University, the scientifically-validated brain enhancing therapy is a fun, high-tech game with state-of-the-art graphics, real-time face tracking and personalized avatars that may also have implications for combating bullying in schools.

Charisma Virtual Social Coaching

Charisma™ is a virtual social coaching platform that teaches social strategies to enhance the way individuals think, work and thrive socially. It provides the flexibility our trained experts require to teach these strategies effectively. Through practice, users develop confidence and adopt behavioral changes that translate into real-world interactions. They can practice initiating conversations, dealing with confrontation and peer pressure, asking someone out on a date, interviewing for a job and more. The program can adapt to each new stage of adolescence and adulthood, and it provides support to individuals with social challenges and neurodevelopmental differences like ADD/ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder and social anxiety.

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