When Your Child’s New Friend is Imaginary

NYU Child Study Center

3 year old Anna with her imaginary friendMany young children, particularly those between the ages of 3 and 5 years, develop imaginary friends.  Children this age are typically beginning to decipher the boundaries between fantasy and reality, and their “new” imagined friends are part of this process. 

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Understanding Babbling as a Key to Development

7 month old TaviaThis article explores the significance of babies’ babble, and how these first sounds and utterances lead to more advanced communication, including both receptive and productive language.  It appears that babies’ around the world babble in similar ways, and researchers are becoming increasingly interested in interpreting these sounds and the impact they have on both cognitive and social development.

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Early Experiences Can Alter Gene Expression and Affect Long-Term Development

Gene Expression articleCenter on the Developing Child  Harvard University

A new report from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child examines how environmental influences impact gene expression. These findings illustrate that the experiences children have early in life shape their developing brain architecture and impact their growth and development.

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The Moral Life of Babies

The New York Times Magazine

Makalya clappingFor years, psychologists have argued that humans enter the world devoid of morality.  However, a growing body of evidence suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life, and babies can demonstrate a basic understanding of right and wrong.

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Alison Bekker – Partnerships Specialist

AlisonAlison Bekker  is the Partnerships Specialist at Talaris Institute. Alison provides support to the Partnerships Team with dedication to partnership research and development, partnership management and administrative support. Her role is essential in building relationships and facilitating the flow of information between Talaris and its partners.

Alison began her work at Talaris in March 2008 after returning from Africa where she focused on building a school and teaching English to Maasai children in a rural village located in Tanzania. Her experience with impoverished children in Africa sparked her passion to work in an environment that focuses on the needs of young children.  Alison has also traveled extensively througout Eurpoe, visiting 10 different countries and advancing her knowledge of various countries and people groups.

Alison completed her Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing from Central Washington University in 2007.

Alison is a triplet and enjoys spending time with the two brothers who accompanied her at birth as well as two additional siblings. She also appreciates the outdoors, traveling and spending quality time with close friends and family.

Elizabeth Nelson, EdD – Director of Research & Communications

Elizabeth 19AUG10Elizabeth Nelson joined the Talaris team in May as the Director of Research and Communications. She is also involved in several research projects at the University of Washington Center on Infant Mental Health and Development, and teaches in their certificate program. She received a UW Royalty Research Grant in 2009 to study the impact of Attachment-focused intervention on the developing HPA axis regulation of infants and toddlers in foster care. Elizabeth earned her doctorate in Developmental Psychology from Harvard University. She completed a research fellowship at Children’s Hospital in Boston, in partnership with the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Head Start, which focused on helping parents of young children overcome barriers to accessing mental health services. Elizabeth received clinical training in Child & Family Therapy at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and provided therapeutic services to families both at Cedars and at the Child Development Clinic in Holyoke, MA. Her research interests are physiological & behavioral outcomes of attachment disruption, and programs that support parent-child attachment.

Carolyn Pirak, LCSW, ICCE – Manager of Partnerships

Carolyn P 19AUG10Carolyn Pirak is the Manager of Partnerships. In her role, she is responsible for the development and coordination of strategic outreach opportunities and collaborative business partnerships designed to provide families with education and resources that encourage the social and emotional well-being of children.

Prior to joining Talaris, Carolyn was the Director of the Bringing Baby Home Program at the Relationship Research Institute where she created and implemented a certification training program on the transition to parenthood for professionals internationally. She has also spent 15 years at Swedish Medical Center in Birth and Family Education and previously, in Perinatal and Neonatal Services. Carolyn is a nationally recognized speaker on Parenting and Relationship issues and is a contributing author to a variety of publications.

Carolyn holds a BA in Psychology and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Washington. She is a Certified Childbirth Educator and a Certified Gottman Educator.  Outside of work, Carolyn enjoys time with her husband and 2 children.