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My scholarly research over the past 25 years has focused on understanding autistic symptoms in children with neurogenetic disorders such as fragile X syndrome, Cornelia de Lange syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome to determine how environmental and biological factors affect the development of these behaviors, toward the goal of creating patient-specific treatments. My investigations include extensive neuroimaging research (MRI, fMRI, DTI), state-of-the-art eye tracking, functional assessments of behavior under controlled experimental conditions, and novel behavioral and pharmacological interventions. I am extensively trained in behavioral assessment and interventions, and provide clinical evaluations and consultation as a doctoral-level Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D).
My primary area of scholarly and clinical interest is the pathogenesis of problem behaviors shown by individuals diagnosed with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), particularly those with neurogenetic forms of IDD, such as fragile X syndrome, Cornelia de Lange syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome. My work aims to both advance understanding of these disorders and to identify effective new treatment approaches for pediatric and adult patient populations by state-of-the-art methodologies, such as brain imaging, eye tracking and functional analysis to determine how environmental and biological factors affect the development of aberrant behaviors in these syndromes. The end goal of my research is to create patient-specific methods for treating the symptoms of these disorders.
Treatment of Disruptive Behaviors in Fragile X Syndrome
Disruptive behaviors such as self-injury, aggression, and property destruction pose
significant health-related issues to children diagnosed with fragile X syndrome (FXS),
impacting the child's quality of life and causing significant distress to families.
Access to appropriate treatment for families is severely limited by factors such as cost of
care, shortages of qualified treatment providers, and geographic spread of children with FXS
across the country. To address these potential issues, the effectiveness of administering a
standardized function-based behavioral treatment for problem behaviors in FXS will be
evaluated using telemedicine. The proposed study intervention therefore offers a tremendous
step forward in clinical research both in the field of FXS and in the field of developmental
disabilities more broadly, and thus will have a significant impact on public health.
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Effects of Social Gaze Training on Brain and Behavior in Fragile X Syndrome
The purpose of the study is to evaluate a 2-3 day treatment probe targeted to improving
social gaze behavior in children with fragile X syndrome (FXS). The investigators will use
the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to shape appropriate social skills.
Importantly, the investigators propose to examine the effects of this treatment probe on
brain and behavior.