Current Research and Research Projects at MSC

Cysteine-Rich Whey Protein Supplementation in Children with Autism: Effects in Core Areas of Behavior and Glutathione Levels
This project is funded by Immunotec, in collaboration with the school of Pharmacy

The goal of this grant Assess the effects of this supplement on core areas of behavior and language functioning of preschool-age children with ASD.

Evaluation of the Building Literacy Project
A project funded through an Early Reading First grant from the Department of Education is being conducted in collaboration with Broward County Public Schools

The goal of the project is to provide support for preschool age children who are at risk for academic and reading failure, due to delays in language development and early literacy skills, variables being studied including changes in the classroom, curricular activities, and teacher technical support. MSC is responsible for conducting the evaluation of the project.

Healthy Beginnings
A project funded through the A.D. Henderson Foundation

A project that will provide systematic, relationship-based training and consultation to parents and child care staff to help support children’s socio-emotional development and in turn reduce the incidence of behavioral and social-emotional deficits.

A comparison of Two Models of Parenting Support for families with Children with Autism
A project funded through NSU’s Quality of Life Grant

This study compares the effectiveness of two models of parenting support for families with young children (ages 18 to 36 months) diagnosed with autism.

Bilingualism and language functioning in you children with autism
A project funded through the President’s Research Faculty Development Grant

The goal of this study is to begin an exploration of the impact that  being exposed to a dual language environment has on children with autism spectrum disorders.

Making the Museum of Discovery and Science Accessible to All

This project is funded through NSU’s Quality of Life Grant

The goal of this project is to address the accessibility of the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale to children with autism spectrum disorders, as well as other special needs.  This project consists of a collaboration between the museum and several NSU departments, including the Mailman Segal Institute, Fischler’s Speech, Language, and Communication Disorders, and the UM-NSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities.

Coping Styles in a Group of Diverse Families with a Young Child with Autism
This project is funded through a Chancellor's Faculty Research Development Grant

The goal of this study is to begin an exploration of the coping patterns of a culturally diverse group of families that have a young child diagnosed with ASD.

Effectiveness of Faculty Autism Awareness Training in Higher Education
This project is funded  through the Chancellor’s Research Faculty Development Grant

This study is designed to evaluate the provision of a specialized training program for awareness of high functional autism (HFA) to faculty of undergraduate and graduate programs at Nova Southeastern University.

A Prekindergarten Peer-Mediated Intervention for Children with Autism
This project is funded through the Chancellor’s Research Faculty Development Grant

This study is designed to assess the effects of a peer-mediated intervention on the number of social initiations exhibited by children with ASD.

Diagnostic agreement among best practice measures of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in school-age children
In collaboration with Fischler School of Education and Human Services

This study, funded through a President’s Faculty  Research Development Grant,  aims to bridge this gap in the existing literature by investigating concordance and discrepancy rates among well established, commonly used instruments to diagnosed autism.

Starting Right Evaluation project

Children participating in Starting Right, an early intervention program for caregivers and children diagnosed with, or at risk for, autism spectrum disorders, are assessed when they begin the intervention and when they graduate the program in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention model.

A Comparison of Three Treatment Models for Preschool-Age Children with Autism and their Families
The purpose of this study is to assess the efficacy of the Baudhuin model for preschool-age children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.

This study will be part of a larger study looking at the efficacy of educational programs aimed at preschool children with autism. The efficacy of the Baudhuin model will be compared with two other existing widely used classroom-based preschool models that serve children with autism, TEACCH and LEAP,  as well as with a "Business as Usual Model"

Implementing the OWL curriculum at the Baudhuin preschool

This project evaluated  the impact of implementing an early literacy curriculum in two integrated classrooms composed of children diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorders and typically developing children

Tracking the Development of the Children in the Infant/Toddler Program

The goal of the study is to create a database to track the development of every child that attends the program; and to have a systematic way of identifying children at-risk for developmental difficulties.

Assessing the relationship between the classroom environments, teacher beliefs and practices, and children’s outcomes in a preschool program
The goal of the project is to assess the quality of the Family Center preschool learning environments.

This will be done by looking at the quality of the environment and the teacher-child interactions. In addition, the study will explore the relationship between the quality of the environment and children’s developmental and academic outcomes.

Demographic Differences in Identification and Program Access for Children with Autism

A demographic questionnaire was developed to administer to families attending the Baudhuin Preschool, a specialized preschool program for children ages three to five diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The questionnaire allows us to understand the socio-cultural composition of the children and families attending the Baudhuin preschool and the way these factors influence age of initial concern, age of diagnosis, and timing, frequency and intensity of services received by children.

Camp Yofi Evaluation project

The purpose of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of Camp Yofi, a one week family camp specifically designed to provide support and work with families with children with an autism spectrum diagnosis.

Assessing the impact of the "Positive Discipline Program"

The goal of this project is to assess the impact of the Positive Discipline Program on key parenting factors that predict positive child outcomes.

Demographic Questionnaire: The Cultural Composition and Practices of the Parenting Place Families

The goal is to understand the demographic composition of the families who participate in the Parenting Place and to assess the impact culture might have on parenting practices.

ABA supervision
The ABA Practicum Supervisors at the Mailman Segal Institute have developed supervision guidelines and assignments to provide structure to the Practicum experience. 

The purpose of the present study is to review the Practicum assignments and assess the degree to which these assignments adequately prepare Practicum Students to utilize the procedures of ABA skillfully, appropriately and ethically.    In addition to the Practicum assignments, competency assessment tools have been developed to accompany each training item.  The aim of the competency assessment tools is to verify that a Practicum Student can demonstrate mastery in an applied setting of the material addressed in the respective module.  An additional goal of the proposed research study is to evaluate the efficacy of these competency assessment tools by examining validity and inter-rater reliability.

Current service grants and contracts

Postdoctoral Training in General, Pediatric and Public Health Dentistry and Dental Hygiene
This project is funded by HRSA and in collaboration with the Dental School

The goal of this grant is to provide training for pediatric dental residents on treating children with autism spectrum disorder.

Child Care Training Coordination
This project is funded through Florida Department of Children and Families

The goal of this contract is to provide caregivers with a better understanding of how to detect and report child abuse and how to provide a safe, nurturing, and stimulating environment.

Recently Completed Projects:

Building Literacy Toolkit

This project focuses on the development, evaluation, and dissemination of a comprehensive literacy-focused toolkit which can be used by early childhood program directors and trainers to transform early childhood centers into literacy-rich environments. The toolkit is based on the philosophy that the center director should be supported to have sustainable and meaningful changes within an organization. The toolkit provides directors with the training materials and resources to develop a program to work with their staff. Preliminary analyses of the first year of implementation suggest statistically significant improvements in the overall quality of the early childhood environments, particularly in the area of early literacy. Also, improvements were observed in the quality of teacher-child interactions and directors’ leadership styles.

Building Responsive Caregiving

The Building responsive Caregiving project, funded by the Quality of Life Council at Nova Southeastern University, was developed to work with staff at an emergency shelter for abused and neglected infants and toddlers in Broward County (Kids in Distress’ Emergency Infant and Toddler Shelter-KITES). Using a combination of workshops and mentoring based on infant mental health concepts and developmentally appropriate practices, staff are trained to enhance their quality of the interactions and the overall educational environment of the shelter.

Parent-child social referencing project

This study is being conducted with parents and children participating in Starting Right an early intervention program for parents and children suspected or diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The goal of this study is to investigate the impact of training parents on techniques aimed at increasing the social referencing behaviors of their children. Preliminary results suggest that this training is an effective way of expanding children’s social referencing behaviors.

Marital Therapy for Couples at Risk with one or more diagnosed children with Autism-In collaboration with the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Having a child with an autism spectrum disorder presents unique challenges, as the entire family system must continually adjust to cope with the child’s difficulties. Parents of children with autism have been shown to exhibit higher levels of stress and lower levels of marital satisfaction as compared to parents of children with other disabilities. This study was developed in order to address some of these concerns. The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of short-term couple’s therapy on parents who have a young child with autism spectrum disorder

Project A+ (Autism + Mathematics= Communication) evaluation study-Funded through NSU’S President’s Faculty and Development Research Grant. In collaboration with FSHD

Project A+ was funded by Nova Southeastern University’s President Faculty and Development Research grant and consisted of an innovative study to assess the effectiveness of a math program for children attending a preschool program for children with autism. Children were randomly assigned into an intervention or a comparison group. Children in the intervention group received the enhanced math program. All children were assessed in the following domains: (1) overall developmental status and (2) math knowledge, concepts, and skills. Results suggest that children in the intervention group presented with higher scores than children in the comparison group in the domains being measured.

Playground inclusionary study

The purpose of this study was to observe the natural occurring interactions that take place between preschool age typically developing children and children with autism spectrum disorder when the two groups of children share playground time and space. Results suggest that without specific interventions there is minimal interaction between these two groups of children.

Comparing a pull-out vs. classroom based sensory integration therapy- In collaboration with the department of Occupational Therapy.

This study was designed to compare the effectiveness of two sensory integration therapy models in a group of preschool age children with autism. One model provides therapy in the classroom and a second model provides the therapy provided in a therapy room as a pull-out model. Results suggest that when compared to the children receiving the pull-put therapies, the children receiving therapy in the classroom had higher expressive language, functional communication, and better social skills; however, they also presented with levels of internalizing problem behaviors and aggression.

Evaluating the Efficacy of the “Parents Activate Literacy Skills (PALS)” Program- In collaboration with the Center of Psychological Studies

This multidisciplinary, collaborative study explored the efficacy of a parent implemented emergent literacy intervention to promote reading readiness and improved parent-child relationships among preschoolers and their caregivers. The study sought to better understand the skills required for early literacy acquisition among preschoolers, and to provide an important training function for graduate students in the areas of preschool assessment and early literacy intervention.

Disaster Preparedness for a Vulnerable Population: Children with Autism - In collaboration with the Center for Bioterrorism and All-Hazards Preparedness in the Health Profession Division

The goal of this project was to assess the effectiveness of a training model in enhancing the knowledge and level of preparedness of parents of young children with autism and professionals working in a preschool program that serves these children.