Recent and Current Research
Long-term Care Planning for Autistic Adults
This is a relatively new area of focus for the lab. The overall objective is to improve long-term care planning practices by better understanding barriers to planning for families of autistic individuals, with a particular focus on including sibling perspectives in this process. Much of this work involves collaboration with our Geropsychology experts at The Alabama Research Institute on Aging.
Undergraduate Student’s Attitudes Toward Autistic Peers
This study aims to investigate characteristics of non-autistic college students that might influence their attitudes toward and willingness to interact with autistic peers. Constructs being examined include empathy, prosocial behavior, personality traits, self-esteem, prior contact with an autistic individual, and quality of previous contact.
Social Interaction Experiences for Autistic Adults
Allison Birnschein’s dissertation study aims to better understand the social interaction experiences of autistic adults, such as exploring which interactions (e.g., with friends, family members, teachers, health care providers, etc.) are most valued by, taxing for, and most in need of improvement for autistic adults. Additionally, autistic adults will share their thoughts on how their non-autistic social partners may facilitate more successful social interactions.
How's the Family: A Study of Family Coping and Communication
For this study, we are interested in examining how families with children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities communicate with one another and cope with stressful situations. A major goal of this project is to get report from multiple members of each family, including both parents and siblings.
Rural Caregivers' Knowledge of Autism
In collaboration with multiple departments on campus, we are aiming to better understand what parents across Alabama in a variety of communities know about autism spectrum disorder and general child development.
Rural Teachers' Knowledge of Autism
We are also examining levels of knowledge about autism and general child development among teachers across Alabama. We are particularly interested in identifying the specific needs of teachers to better instruct children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder.
This study involves investigating a variety of outcomes among typically-developing adult siblings of individuals with autism spectrum disorders or intellectual disabilities. Constructs examined include social support, parentification, life satisfaction, and perceived impact, among others.
Child and Adolescent Siblings
Like the adult study, this project examines outcomes among child and adolescent typically-developing siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder. We are particularly interested in identifying risk- and protective-factors for sibling emotional and behavioral functioning.