Autism Study of Bulgarian Children’s Communication (ABC)

Principal Investigator

In this study, I am examining the cross-cultural and cross-linguistic differences in parental input to children with autism from Bulgaria and from the US. I am collecting natural language samples, while children are playing with their parents. These samples are later transcribed and analyzed to examine the syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of parents’ speech. I am interested in identifying the methods of communication that best facilitate children’s language development.

World Health Organization/Autism Speaks Family Needs Assessment Survey of Caregivers of Bulgarian Children with Developmental Delay, Disorder, and Disability

Co-Principal Investigator

In collaboration with Autism Speaks, the New Bulgarian University and a local Bulgarian clinician, we collected an online Family Needs Assessment survey from parents and caregivers of children with developmental delays, disorders, and disabilities in Bulgaria. Some of the results from this project will be included in WHO’s upcoming Global Report on Children with Developmental Delays, Disorders, and Disabilities. In addition, we are preparing a separate publication that will provide a more detailed look on the needs of children with disabilities in Bulgaria. More information about the report as well as some preliminary results from Bulgaria can be found here.

ManyBabies Demographics Project

Co-Lead with Dr. Leher Singh

This is an international collaboration aiming to create a standard and unified demographic form for researchers studying early child development across different languages, cultures, and countries. As part of this project, a group of over 20 researchers from all over the world (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America) work on collaboratively formulating the specific questions to be included in this demographic form and on providing guidance on how to adapt them to different groups.

Social Isolation and Vocabulary Development: Insights from Families with Varying SES

Local Collaborator

This is a multi-site, international research collaboration with more than 20 labs from 14 different countries led by Dr. Julien Mayor and Natalia Kartushina from the University of Oslo, Norway. The goal of the project was to assess vocabulary change in typically developing toddlers during the measurs of social distancing and kindergarten closure associated with COVID-19. A pre-print of the manuscript can be found here.

In a series of research projects, my colleagues at the Center for Autism Research Excellence and I worked on developing a new language assessment protocol for children and adolescents with autism across a wide range of ages and language abilities. The protocol called Eliciting Language Samples for Analysis (ELSA) is suitable for collecting language samples from very young children with good verbal abilities (1.5 to 4 years; ELSA-T) to older minimally to low-verbal children and adolescents (4 to 20 years; ELSA-A). Our novel, real-time approach for coding the collected ELSA samples yields reliable and valid measures of the language and communication of children and adolescents with autism.