Early Social Communication Lab


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About the Social Communication Lab

Dr. Rollins' research focuses on the continuity between early social-pragmatic skills and the acquisition of later vocabulary, grammar, and narrative. Of particular interest is the co-construction of joint attention within infant-caregiver dyads -- and how this process varies in children with autism and other language impairments. She employs a longitudinal research design that uses microanalyses of within-child and between-child development to systematically compare and contrast typically developing children with children who are autistic, language impaired, and deaf. This technique allows Dr. Rollins to understand how variation in the rate of socio-pragmatic development affects the acquisition of joint attention and later linguistic skills.

Dr. Rollins' work has demonstrated that communicative acts that regulate and sustain joint attention play a substantive role in the language acquisition process, while communicative acts that regulate behavior do not. The limited appreciation of the differential affects that joint attention and behavioral regulations on language acquisition undermine the precision and power of theory, research, and clinical practice.

Current studies in the laboratory investigate (a) early social and cognitive skills necessary for the development of language in typical children and children with autism; and (b) emotional regulation abilities in children with autism as it relates to attention and language. Dr. Rollins uses the results to devise pragmatic-based intervention techniques for children with autism.