Did you know changes in the brain within the first year of life can predict behavior 1-2 years later?
Here at the Early Social Development and Intervention (ESDI) Lab at UofSC, we are pushing the needle for earlier diagnosis of autism. Our lab is led by Dr. Jessica Bradshaw, a psychologist and researcher who studies early identification and intervention for autism spectrum disorders within the first year of life.
Currently, children with autism cannot be behaviorally diagnosed until 2-3 years of age. However, emerging research indicates the presence of certain biomarkers in infancy that may predict an autism diagnosis. By identifying early biological and behavioral processes that predict the emergence of social communication disorders, Dr. Bradshaw hopes to develop frameworks for very early intervention for infants.
In other words, if we can learn how to diagnosis infants at a very young age, this could help promote early intervention within the first year of life. This could help to promote early social and language development for infants at risk, and even prevent some of the most challenging behaviors in ASD.
ESDI Lab Infant Study
We are currently enrolling families for our Infant Study where we monitor infants through their first 2 years of life. Our participants come into the lab for 1.5 – 2-hour sessions where we provide detailed developmental assessments (for free!). Most of these assessments involve us tracking infants’ attention and heart rate while they watch short videos and play with their caregivers. Everything here is infant friendly!
Participating families receive close monitoring of their infants through the first 2-3 years of their infants’ life, free developmental feedback, a comprehensive autism screening at 24 months, and a $25 gift card after each visit (with the option to earn up to $300!). We also help connect families to early intervention services or other resources as needed.
Interested In Participating?
We are currently enrolling infants from different backgrounds for this study. If you are a caregiver with an infant under 4-6 months old, you may qualify! We are specifically looking for:
Infants with Old Siblings
We are looking for families with an infant under 4 months of age who have a full biological sibling. These families do not need to have a history of autism in order to be eligible.
Infants Born Preterm
Do you have an infant born preterm and wish to closely monitor developmental milestones? Your infant may also be eligible for this study! We are also looking for preterm infants under 4 months of age to participate.
Infants with an Older Sibling with Autism
Finally, we are seeking infants under 6 months of age who have an older sibling with autism. According to a study at the Yale School of Medicine, younger siblings of children with autism have a 20% likelihood of developing autism themselves. Dr. Katarzyna Chawarska, a professor and researcher with the Yale Child Study Center states that “While the majority of siblings of children with ASD will not develop the condition themselves, for those who do, one of the key priorities if finding more effective ways of identifying and treating them as early as possible.”
This is what our infant study aims to do.
Families can sign up to participate by filling this form through our website. We will contact them directly to discuss eligibility, scheduling, and help answer any questions.
Are you a caregiver interested in participating, but don't meet any the criteria above? Still contact us to discuss additional research opportunities that may be available for you and your family.
On behalf of the entire Early Social Development and Intervention Lab, thank you for helping to make this research possible. Our hope is that this will help change the lives of children and families affected by autism in years to come. Please share this post with anyone who may be interested or benefit from this research.
P.S. Want to get more involved and help us spread the word?
Join our REF (Research Empowering Families) Recruitment Club by signing up here. You’ll receive more information related to recruitment, outreach, free childcare opportunities, and special events… just for REF members!