Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.* Research in the Department of Educational Psychology focuses on early identification, prevention measures, and interventions related to ASD.
Dr. Johnson (special education) researches interventions to improve outcomes for a range of preschool and elementary school-aged children who are at high risk given social, emotional, behavioral, and communication needs. Dr. Johnson is focused on creating the next generation of intervention studies that support high fidelity implementation of evidence-based interventions within tiered intervention and prevention models. This includes research projects that are designed to test the efficacy of social-communication interventions for children with autism.
Dr. Wolff (special education) runs a lab funded funded in-part by the National Institute of Mental Health with two goals -- to leverage brain imaging data to characterize factors associated with the early emergence of behavioral excesses and deficits in autism spectrum disorder, and to identify potential neurodevelopmental moderators of response to early intervention. The ultimate goal of this work is to determine how brain and behavioral data may be used to inform the timing and content of early or even preventative interventions.
Dr. Panayiota Kendeou (psychological foundations of education) investigates how people learn new knowledge and revise pre-existing incorrect knowledge or misinformation during their reading experiences. She is currently investigating how misinformation that resists correction influences reasoning and decision making in health issues pertaining to ASD (e.g., reliance on ineffective treatments, withholding vaccinations), and explore ways for effective revision.
Dr. M.Y. Savana Bak's research focuses on measurement and analysis of language in children with ASD using language samples collected from the children’s natural environment. She strives to develop practical interventions and identify environmental factors that facilitate language development and increase social interaction in children with ASD.
Interested in conducting research in autism spectrum disorder? Learn more about earning your doctorate in special education.
Knowledge/skills needed to promote learning/success for school age children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Definition, etiology, and characteristics of ASD. Current research/issues. Collaborative problem solving, family-professional partnerships, educational programming.
Selection/use of range of procedures, including non-biased, specific assessments to screen/identify children with autism spectrum disorders. Specific intervention strategies designed to teach beginning communication/social skills to children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
Transfer of theoretical knowledge to practical application. Role/responsibilities of special education teacher in settings of elementary/secondary age.