Autism & Developmental Disabilities

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teacher showing happy and sad faces to student with autism

Supporting individuals with developmental disabilities such as autism, as well as their caregivers and service providers, is central to the work of FPG. Understanding developmental trajectories and the impact of a developmental disability on the individual, family, and broader community informs both theory and practice. High-quality intervention across the age range can ensure that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families fully participate in their community in ways that are meaningful to them. FPG investigators have identified central features of high-quality intervention, such as family-focused programming, early childhood inclusion, and the use of identified evidence-based practices. They lead the field in translating scientific knowledge into practical information for teachers and service providers, and actively join their colleagues from implementation science in promoting adoption and use of effective intervention practices in schools, homes, and community settings.

Featured FPG News Story

The Autism Focused Intervention Resources and Modules (AFIRM) project recently released a new module, Selecting an Evidence-Based Practice, and an accompanying Individualized Education Program (IEP) to Evidence-based Practice (EBP) tool. This new AFIRM module describes the process for selecting an evidence-based practice to use with autistic learners.

Featured Publication

Eye-gaze assistive technology offers children with severe motor and communication difficulties the opportunity to access and control a computer through eye movements. FPG’s Samuel Odom, PhD, recently contributed to a study that examined the impact of eye-gaze assistive technology intervention on technology usability among children with complex needs in Taiwan.

Featured Person

Samuel Odom, PhD, is a senior research scientist at the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and research professor emeritus in the UNC School of Education. His research has addressed topics related to early childhood inclusion and preschool readiness and much of his current research focuses on autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Current Projects

This model demonstration seeks to increase family uptake of developmental screenings and service enrollment of traditionally underserved populations by centering family and cultural voice throughout the implementation process.
The Early Childhood Inclusion Professional Learning Program led by Chih-Ing Lim, PhD. at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Elena Soukakou, PhD., is committed to support the Community Psychology Hub, Singapore in ensuring that the InSP program is implemented effectively to serve young children with disabilities.
This study will iteratively develop and test an adapted professional development model to be used with the Advancing Social-communication And Play intervention.
The National Clearinghouse on Autism Evidence and Practice (NCAEP) is conducting a systematic review of the current intervention literature targeting individuals on the autism spectrum. NCAEP is a continuation of the evidence review that was completed by the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The purpose of this study is to evaluate two group-based treatments: (1) the Program for Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS), which targets social skills, and (2) Unstuck and On Target (UOT), which targets executive function skills. The interventions are two 45-minute sessions per week across 16 weeks and will be implemented by school-based staff in middle schools in North Carolina and Southern California (San Diego area).
The goal of this project is to validate the Early Communication Indicator for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ECI-ASD) using a robust and representative multi-site sample of well-characterized children with autism spectrum disorder to determine the psychometric features of this instrument and its ability to detect change over time.

Publications and Other Resources

Published: January 2023 Type: Online Learning
Published: November 2022 Type: Online Learning