The Attachment Assessment Project of the BABY Center

Grant Winners

  • Dr. Kimberly Shaw – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Dr. Roni Leiderman – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Dr. Debbie Glasser – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Dr. Carol Reed – College of Health Care Sciences
  • Dr. Cyril Blavo – College of Health Care Sciences

Deans

  • Wendy Masi – Mailman Segal Center for Human Development
  • Raul Cuadrado – College of Health Care Sciences

Abstract

The proposed Attachment Assessment Project of the BABY Center will examine the effect of caregiver attachment, attunement and stress on early infant-caregiver adaptation and regulation. The regulation of preverbal parent-infant communication (attunement) is considered essential for progress infant self-regulation, cognition, speech and socioemotional developmental outcome and increase the potential for child abuse and neglect. Previous research on risk factors has typically examined isolated factors and has been atheoretical. The proposed research is attachment theory-based, which has the advantage of being a comprehensive biopsychosocial model that directly informs and drives specific interventions. From this perspective, "fussing" behavior may serve important survival functions as strategies for signaling and regulating caregiver proximity and availability when a caregiver is otherwise unresponsive. Moreover the caregivers' own attachment style (i.e. their cognitive affect belief systems and interpersonal coping strategies) may impact their ability to decode and appropriately respond to infants' cues. The specific objective of the proposed project is to identify and quantify the risk of insecure attachment style and caregiver stress on the infant's self regulation and overall adaptation in infant- caregiver dyads referred for dysregulation (N=36) and non-referred dyads (N=36) matched by age of infant (6weeks to 6 months). The data will be used to inform the intervention process implemented in the Better Attachment for Baby & You (BABY) Center. This interdisciplinary diagnostic and intervention service for families with infants also serves as a training center for the Family Center, Occupational Therapy and Pediatric Medicine. Quantification of degree of risk for poor adaptation and dysregulation among young infants may lead to an emphasis on earlier identification and intervention of distressed dyads.