Episode #75 Interview with Dr. Jessica Bradshaw at USC -Early Social Development and Intervention Lab

Share this episode:

Get Notified When New Episodes Are Released


  The Early Social Development & Intervention Lab is dedicated to better understanding infant development and improving the future for kids with autism! Our research study follows babies through their first 2 years of life and monitors their social, motor, and language skills as they grow. Parents receive periodic feedback on their baby's development and can earn up to $300 for participating. If you are
currently pregnant or have an infant 6 months old or younger, you are eligible for our study. Learn More and Sign Up Here https://www.esdilab.com/

Dr. Bradshaw received her PhD in Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara after which time she completed her postdoctoral work at the Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of Medicine. She has been involved in autism research since her undergraduate work in Cognitive Science at the University of California, San Diego and her post-baccalaureate work at the Yale Child Study Center.

My research focuses on early identification and intervention of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the first years of life. Specifically, I am interested in: 1) quantifying the emergence of, and interrelations between, social behavior, visual attention, and motor skills in neonates, infants, and toddlers, 2) identifying aberrant neurodevelopmental pathways that lead to the emergence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and 3) translating these basic findings to early detection and intervention strategies for ASD.

Early Identification

I use behavioral, eye tracking, and physiological methods to map early neurobehavioral development and identify pivotal transitions that occur between birth and 12 months of age, with a particular interest in birth through 5 months. In the context of longitudinal research designs with infants at risk for ASD, I aim to understand how disruption during these early developmental periods may have cascading consequences on the development of social communication.

Early Intervention

A second line of my research focuses on naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions (NDBIs) for infants and toddlers with or at risk for ASD. I am interested in using eye tracking to identify both parent and child predictors of treatment response and using these predictors to better individualize treatment. I am also interested in exploring how we can use NDBI methods to enhance social attention and support motor development in the first months of life and how these efforts may facilitate the emergence of social communication for infants at risk for ASD.

You can learn more about Dr. Bradshaw's research at https://sc.edu/study/colleges_schools/artsandsciences/psychology/our_people/directory/bradshaw_jessica.php

Automatic Transcription from Otter.ai

autism, infant, bradshaw, parents, work, research, study, developmental, today, months, child study center, colombia, university, interested, south carolina, remarkable, subclinical, sibling, research studies, early intervention

Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of the autism and action podcast. Today we have another very special guest. We have Dr. Bradshaw here with us from the EU, University of South Carolina, the Department of Psychology. Dr. Bradshaw received her PhD in clinical counseling and school psychology from the University of California in Santa Barbara, after which time she completed her postdoctoral work at the Marcus Autism Center, Emory University School of Medicine. She's been involved in autism research since her undergraduate work in cognitive science at the University of California, San Diego, and her post bachelor Bachelorette work at the Yale child Study Center. Thank you so much for taking time to be here today, Jessica. Course, thank you for having me. This is exciting. It is. And you guys are doing some remarkable work and some some pretty exciting things. So I'd love for you to just share about what it is that you're working on and how our listeners can get involved. Yeah.

So here at the University of South Carolina, in Colombia, we are running a couple different studies, research studies, and both are focused on the really early identification of autism. And so kind of the current state of the field right now is that the behavioral signs of autism that we kind of consider when we're thinking about that classic autism, so maybe a language delay, and maybe differences in eye contact, not really responding to their name differences and how they're interacting with objects, or playing with toys, those things don't emerge until about after 18 months, a year and a half. However, we also know that early intervention is super important. And within the first year of life, we have this period of remarkable brain development, and a peak in brain plasticity. So how well the brain can adapt to new situations and new contexts and how well it can maybe respond to early interventions. And so my research program is really focused on identifying features of autism earlier than the first birthday. So within, I'm specifically interested in the first six months of life and what we can learn about autism within the first six months of life. And so how we do this research, since I just said we can't diagnose autism until about a year and a half, we do know that autism is at least in part, genetic. And so there's a big family history component to it. And so what we do is we are currently seeking and recruiting infant siblings of kids with autism. So infants who are younger than six months of age moms who are currently pregnant, who have a full biological, older sibling with a diagnosis of autism. And so we know about that group is about 20% of those infant siblings go on to have a diagnosis of autism, and about 50% total, have either autism, or maybe a language delay, maybe ADHD, maybe just some subclinical features that aren't exactly autism. But just you know, some some examples of neurodiversity, shall we say, and so we know that those infants can really benefit from being monitored. So above and beyond our research, these infants can really benefit from being having that developmental monitoring throughout the first two years of life. And so we see these infants in the lab, we put wireless heart rate monitors on these babies, we have babies interact with objects and toys, have them interact with people have them watch movies, where we can actually see exactly where they're looking using some eye tracking technology. And then of course, we do our developmental assessments and give feedback to parents about how their infant is doing. And so we follow these infants throughout the first two years of life.

That is amazing. So this is a longer span study. And parents can get in touch with you now if they already have a child on the spectrum, and they're expecting to have a sibling for them have another child so that they can kind of plan ahead for that study. I think that's awesome. What's the best way for our listeners to get in touch with you?

So I would say the easiest way is to send us a text that says info or really anything, I would like to learn more anything you want to our phone number, which is 803-993-8356. But we also have a website that you can go and check out and fill out our interest form and we'll get in touch with you that way. And our website is esdi lab.com. So esdi stands for early social development and intervention lab.com.

Now, if they are interested in being a participant, what could they expect? Do you do they have to come to you in Colombia, or do you guys go to them?

Yeah, so there are two different options. Parents can always come into the lab. And sometimes parents prefer to kind of just get out of the house for a little bit. Especially we've all been locked in the house for a while now. And I will say that the the one thing about parents bringing coming into the lab is if you, as most of our parents have at least one other child, you can bring along those other kids. And we have students who will watch them and do free childcare and everything. So it actually ends up being kind of a break for parents. But if that's not an option, or if distance is too much of a barrier, we will see we will come to you. So we'll bring all of our equipment and come into your home and see you and your infant in the home. Awesome, awesome.

Was there anything else that you would like for our listeners to know today?

I'll just say that we are here at USC, we're really trying to expand our autism research and our outreach to the autism community. And so if you have a child with autism, but you're not you don't have an infant or you're, you're not interested in that part of the study, we have a larger registry that we're trying to build for any families who have an individual with autism in their family who might be interested in any research study. We have other research studies that are ongoing, we have other research studies that are pending kind of planning to begin in the future. And so you can also reach out even if you don't have an infant to see if there are any other opportunities that you might be eligible for and even to join our our list of autism families that are just interested in any future research opportunities.

Well, Dr. Bradshaw, you guys are doing some amazing work there at the University of South Carolina. Thank you again for taking time to share this with our listeners today. Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Let's Discuss!

Now, we would love to hear from you.

Do you have questions? Do you have ideas? Do you have an opinion? Do you think we missed something?

Let's have a discussion in the comments below or head over to the Autism in Action Facebook group. We would love to hear from you!

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Be Notified When New Podcast Episodes Are Released