Elizabeth (Beth) Wilke, HDFS Alumni Spotlight, April 2022


Beth WilkeElizabeth (Beth) Wilke graduated from UConn in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies, concentrating in Early Childhood Development and Education. She received the State of Connecticut Office of Early Childhood’s Early Childhood Teacher Credential (ECTC) after completing Fieldwork & Supervised Teaching Practicums in UConn Child Labs’ Preschool 2 and Infant Blue Room.

Upon graduation from UConn, Beth attended Bay Path University in Massachusetts for two years and received a master’s degree in occupational therapy. She briefly strayed from her early childhood roots during her fieldwork experiences as an occupational therapy student, completing one fieldwork experience with the geriatric population and another with school-age children. Although she was not working with young children during this time, her undergraduate training as an early childhood educator was critical to her success as an occupational therapy student. During this time, she discovered that the concepts of developmentally appropriate practice and reflective practice were invaluable even outside the field of early childhood.

Beth returned to the early childhood field shortly after receiving her master’s degree; she accepted her first position as an occupational therapist at an autism-specialty program for the Connecticut Birth to Three System. Although the demands of a therapist’s first job typically elicit much anxiety, Beth found that she adjusted to the field of early intervention relatively seamlessly. She credits much of her initial success in the field to her training and experiences at the UConn Child Labs. The experience of creating developmentally appropriate curricula for children of varying ages, as well as building and maintaining rapport with children and families, created solid foundations for her future work in early intervention.

After almost two years at an autism-specialty Birth to Three program, Beth accepted a new position at a general program that serves children and families of children with a variety of needs. She frequently works with infants and toddlers who were born prematurely, are experiencing delays in their feeding and/or motor development, as well as those on the autism spectrum. Her professional interests include early signs of autism, particularly the potential association between early motor delays and later diagnoses of autism. To further her development in the early childhood/early intervention field, she is currently training to administer autism assessments such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), and TELE-ASD-PEDS, a tool to support the identification of autism via remote assessment. She is also enrolled in an interdisciplinary training course for early interventionists at UConn’s Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service to enhance her skills building capacity in parents and caregivers of young children.

Beth recently purchased her own condo in Farmington, Connecticut, where she lives with her cat and dog.  Outside of work and school, she spends time with friends and family members that live locally.  Her hobbies include cycling, swimming, and yoga.  She recently started trying to grow houseplants and is a big fan of Taylor Swift!

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