Current Research

        Research is important to increasing our understanding of the ways anxiety problem develop in youth, how anxiety affects youth, as well as understanding the factors which influence parenting behaviors. With information from our research, we can develop both intervention and prevention strategies to help other youth and families who struggle with anxiety and stress. We primarily rely on volunteers from the community to help us gather information to better understand issues such as the effect of child anxiety on family dynamics, the role of parenting stress on families with children with autism, and the effectiveness of behavioral intervention for children with autism.

Some of our current projects include:
Effectiveness Trial of Parent Child Interaction Therapy: Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) is an empirically-based, positive and intensive treatment program designed to help parents and children together to improve the quality of the parent-child relationship and to teach parents the skills necessary to manage their children's behavior problems. This research is examining the effect of PCIT on child disruptive behavior, psychological symptoms, parent stress, and parenting behaviors in children with and without autism spectrum disorders.
 
Communicative Outcomes of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Following a Parent-Implemented Therapy Program: The purpose of this collaborative research with faculty/students in the Speech-Language Pathology department is to determine whether participation in the child directed phase of Parent Child Interaction Therapy will result in measurable increases in language performance for children with ASDs.

Dyadic Parent-Child Interaction Coding System-III: The Dyadic Parent-Child Interaction Coding System-III, also known as DPICS-III, assesses the quality of parent-child interaction. This coding system is commonly used in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, or PCIT. This project will allow us to look at the reliability and validity of the DPICS-III with children with autism symptomology compared to typically developing children.

Psychosocial Stress and Resiliency: This project examines the validity of a psychosocial screening tool in assessing risk factors and modeling the relation between risk factors (i.e., family context, resources, perceived severity and uncertainty), protective factors (i.e., optimism, mastery and control beliefs, hardiness), and family adaptation (i.e. quality of life, treatment engagement, child behaviors) in families with a child at-risk for developmental delays or diagnosed with a Pervasive Developmental Disability.
 
Household Chaos, Language, and Theory of Mind: This study is aimed at examining aspects of children's environment that may play a role in their development. Children's language and theory of mind development from age four to five are assessed and analyzed in relation to demographic and home environment variables.
 
Staff Child Interaction Training: This pilot project will examine the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing Staff Child Interaction Training (SCIT) at a local child residential facility. Through the course of SCIT, behavioral staff will learn new skills to enhance staff-child relationships and more effectively manage child behavior problems.
 
Parenting Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Due to the unique challenges of parenting a child with ASD, this project aims to better understand child and parent characteristics in treatment-seeking families. More specifically, this study will investigate the relationship between disruptive behaviors, autism severity, and parenting stress.
 
Developmental & Behavioral Health Literacy in Pediatric Health Care Providers and Trainees: In order to ensure that children and families are referred for evaluation and care appropriately, it is important that pediatric providers be informed on current diagnostic criteria and treatment options available. This project is a large survey we are conducting to assess levels of knowledge of common childhood disorders among a range of health care providers and trainees. Eventually, we hope that this information will inform curriculum and training to prepare professionals to provide quality integrated health care.
 
Parenting Adolescents: Validation of the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire: Given the developmental differences between children and adolescents it is expected that parents will utilize different parenting methods. This study will examine the specific methods used by parents of adolescents, the agreement between parents and adolescents, and relationship of parenting behaviors to youth outcomes. 
 
The Retrospective Alabama Parenting Questionnaire: This project will examine the validity of the retrospective version of the Alabama Parenting Questionnaire. The study will also look into how different parenting practices affect our social, emotional, and behavioral development.