School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Social Communication Lab

RESEARCH PROJECTS

Pathways Early Intervention Project

This project further develops the efficacy of Pathways Early Autism Intervention (Pathways). Pathways focus on the core features of autism, which disrupt social and communication skills in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The program is innovative in that it fits the service delivery model for early intervention programs in TX (IDEA part C) and which includes parent coaching. Our case study research found Pathways to be effective for social engagement, verbal reciprocity, and social communication in five toddlers with ASD.

The current project will compare the social and communication outcomes of a group receiving the Pathways intervention, and a group that will be referred to community providers for intervention. We hypothesize that Pathways’ innovative approach will be associated with greater gains in gains in social and communicative outcomes as compared to the other group. In addition, data obtained from the research will allow us to pursue develop an algorithm to identify which individual children will have optimal benefit from Pathways. Due to the heterogeneity of ASD, there is no one treatment that has been effective for all children.

Understanding the Effects of Using a Humanoid Robot as a Co-therapist Teaching Social Skills to Children with ASD

Our goal is to utilize cutting edge humanoid robotics and tablet technology to understand the effect of Robot-Child interaction on social engagement and verbalization patterns in school-aged children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Preliminary research suggests that the use of social robots is promising. Children with ASD show more engagement and are better able to recognize facial expressions with social robots than with humans.

Our lab is focused on understanding specific features of the robot-child interaction that facilitate social communication in children with ASD.
Robots help in fight against autism (YouTube)
Teaching Social Skills through Robots (UT Dallas Ingenious site)

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