Waisman Center Opens Early Autism and Communication Research Clinic (EACRC)

Susan Ellis Weismer, PhD
Susan Ellis Weismer, PhD

The Waisman Center’s newest clinic will help researchers learn more about language development in young children newly diagnosed with autism. The Early Autism and Communication Research Clinic (EACRC), co-directed by Susan Ellis Weismer and Morton Gernsbacher, provides developmental, communication, and diagnostic evaluation services to children between ages 2 and 3 years old who have been diagnosed or are suspected to be on the autism spectrum and who participate in the Toddler Talk Project. This project is a federally-funded longitudinal study of early communication skills in children on the autism spectrum.

Evaluations are provided by specialists in autism and speech-language disorders who provide families with information on diagnosis (when appropriate) and speech and language development. Families work closely with the psychologist and speech-language pathologists during the evaluation, and families and staff meet together after the evaluation to review findings. Families are given information on community resources that may be available to them to access needed services for their child.

Appointments are available during clinic hours, and additional hours are offered on an individual basis to accommodate families’ schedules. Families who participate in the Toddler Talk Project receive the developmental evaluation free of charge.

According to Ellis Weismer, “Difficulty with communication is often one of the first red flags noted by parents of toddlers on the autism spectrum. In the Toddler Talk Project we’re using a range of measures, including standardized tests, psycholinguistic tasks and parent report, to assess early language abilities in children who are newly diagnosed. By following the same group of children over time, we hope to identify early predictors of language outcomes at 5 years of age. Findings from this study will be useful for early differential diagnosis and may assist with designing more effective language interventions.”

For more information about the project, or to learn how to enroll, contact Chris Hollar at 608-263-3123.