Neurodiversity-Informed Interventions... Each autistic person has a unique set of strengths and challenges. At COLAB, we study neurodiversity-informed interventions that address the functional impairments that are associated with autism (e.g., in social communication, social skills, flexibility, and emotion regulation). Our goal is to conduct research that helps autistic* children, teens, and their families have better quality of life (i.e., resilient mental health, independence and employment in adulthood).
Implemented in Community Settings... We study how to implement these evidence-based interventions within early intervention, school, and mental healthcare systems, in ways that are tailored to each system and support equitable access for all autistic children and teens.
In Partnership with Community Stakeholders Our research uses a community-based participatory research (CBPR) framework. That means that we work to involve autistic individuals, families, providers, and other stakeholders at every stage of my research: from deciding what to study, to collecting data, to sharing our findings with others. Please email us if you have ideas for research in this area and are interested in partnering in this work!
We conduct three main types of studies:
Training in South Carolina systems: We are interested in investigating equitable methods for training clinicians and parents in intervention strategies they can use to support children’s social communication and emotional development. As part of this research, I provide training in evidence-based, autism-specialized intervention strategies for Part C-funded birth-to-three organizations.
“How” and “for whom” interventions work: We are also interested in 1) identifying the “active ingredients” by which early interventions improve social communication and emotion regulation, and 2) exploring individual differences in the efficacy of these interventions.
Understanding the role of emotion regulation in autism in toddlers: We are interested in whether toddlers with or at high likelihood of autism regulate their emotions differently than neurotypical toddlers, and whether they would benefit from different intervention supports to support their emotion regulation.
*We use identity-first language (e.g., “autistic person”) to affirm the value and worth of every individual as an autistic person. Some assert that person-first language (e.g., “person with autism”) implies that autism is inherently negative in that it needs to be “separated” from the person. That being said, we respect that many stakeholders may prefer person-first language, and we strive to use the terms that each person prefers. For more information about this choice, see this commentary by Dr. Giacomo Vivanti summarizing the history around these terms, this position statement by the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN), and this commentary by Dr. Kristen Bottema-Beutel and colleagues.