Research goals include improving our understanding of how children and adults with ASD learn new information and how to develop better treatment programs. We are looking for individuals between the ages of 12 months to adulthood to participate.

Current research projects include:

Early Screening Program

95% of Alabama families report concerns before their children are 36 months but average age of diagnosis in Alabama is 51 months (CDC, 2009)

Through the West Alabama Autism Outreach Program we are partnering with physicians across West Alabama to improve early detection of ASD by:

  • Caregiver screeners at 18 and 24 month well-child visits.
  • Workshops for healthcare providers on how to indentify early signs of ASD.

Dr. Barber's primary research interests involve early identification and intervention with young children who have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The goal of Dr. Barber's research on early identification is to contribute to effective surveillance and screening practices in pediatrician offices. Her intervention research focuses on peer mediated play interventions with very young children with ASD. The goals of this intervention are to improve social initiations and motivations and to decrease repetitive play behaviors in toddlers with ASD. In addition, Dr. Barber is interested in the differences between early language profiles of children who have ASD, children who have specific language impairment, and children who are late talkers.

Play is an important component of children's development and helps facilitate a variety of necessary skills. However, play in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is often deficit and/or delayed. Parent-child play sessions will be videotaped to examine how parents scaffold children's play and assess children's developmental skills and play level. Parents of children with ASD will be trained on Ingersoll and Dvortcsak's social communication intervention (2010), emphasizing how to train children to play. After the intervention, parent-child play sessions will be videotaped to examine how parents scaffold children's play and assess children's developmental skills. Projected findings include children displaying more advanced play skills, improved language, and better socialization skills, in addition to parents engaging more in children's play. 

If you are interested in participating in any of these research studies, please call the research lab at (205) 348-310 or email the lab, or click HERE to volunteer to be included in our research participant database.