January 20, 2020

Autism Research

Carolyn McCormick, Brian Kavanaugh, Danielle Sipsock, Giulia Righi, Lindsay Oberman, Daniel Moreno de Luca, Ece Gamsiz Uzun, Carrie Best, Beth Jerskey, Joanne Quinn, Susan Jewel, Pei-Chi Wu, Rebecca McLean, Todd Levine, Hasmik Tokadjian, Kayla Perkins, Elaine Clarke, Brittany Dunn, Alan Gerber, Elena Tenenbaum, Thomas Anders, Rhode Island Consortium for Autism Research and Treatment, Stephen Sheinkopf, Eric Morrow

The paper describes important findings from the first 1,000 individuals enrolled in RI-CART.  We have learned much about the strengths and complex needs of individuals with autism, from young children to older adults.  Several things are highlighted in this paper:

  • In RI-CART, girls with autism were diagnosed 1 1/2 years later than boys.  The lesson:  we need to improve early detection and diagnosis for girls and for children without delays in language

  • Participants in RI-CART often struggled with mental health challenges and had diagnoses that are in addition to the ASD diagnosis.  Lesson: we need to attend to the whole person and we need to improve access to mental health services for all.

  • And RI-CART was able to partner with and enroll well over 20% of all children with ASD in Rhode Island. In fact, including all participants in RI-CART (not just those included in the recent publication), over 40% of children with ASD in Rhode Island have participated in RI-CART. 

October 25, 2018

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

M. Samantha English, Elena J. Tenenbaum, Todd P. Levine, Barry M. Lester, Stephen J. Sheinkopf

This study investigates parental perceptions of cries of 1-month-old infants later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and non-ASD controls. Parents of children with and without ASD listened to cry recordings of infants later diagnosed with ASD and comparison infants and rated them on cry perception scales. Parents completed the Broad Autism Phenotype Questionnaire (BAPQ) to assess the potential relations between traits associated with autism and cry perception. Across parents, ASD infant cries were rated as more distressed, less typical, and reflecting greater pain, with no significant differences between parent groups. Parents of children with ASD scored higher on the BAPQ compared to parents of children without ASD. Follow up analyses explored the relations between BAPQ score and cry ratings.

January 13, 2018

Autism Research

 Righi, G., Tenenbaum, E. J., McCormick, C. E. B., Amso, D., & Sheinkopf, S. J. (2018)


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is often accompanied by deficits in speech and language processing. Speech processing relies heavily on the integration of auditory and visual information, and it has been suggested that the ability to detect correspondence between auditory and visual signals helps to lay the foundation for successful language development. The goal of the present study was to examine whether young children with ASD show reduced sensitivity to temporal asynchronies in a speech processing task when compared to typically developing controls, and to examine how this sensitivity might relate to language proficiency. Using automated eye tracking methods, we found that children with ASD failed to demonstrate sensitivity to asynchronies of 0.3s, 0.6s, or 1.0s between a video of a woman speaking and the corresponding audio track. In contrast, typically developing children who were language-matched to the ASD group, were sensitive to both 0.6s and 1.0s asynchronies. We also demonstrated that individual differences in sensitivity to audiovisual asynchronies and individual differences in orientation to relevant facial features were both correlated with scores on a standardized measure of language abilities. Results are discussed in the context of attention to visual language and audio-visual processing as potential precursors to language impairment in ASD. Autism Res 2018. © 2018 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

May 13, 2017

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Righi, G., Benevides J., Sheinkopf, S. J., & Morrow, E. M., Developmental Disabilities Inpatient Research, Collaborative (2017). 


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is associated with significant healthcare expenditures and a greater utilization of psychiatric health services. High utilization may not be evenly distributed across individuals with ASD. The objective of this study was to identify individual and family characteristics that increase the risk of psychiatric hospitalization. Naturalistic study of two age- and gender-matched ASD cohorts, inpatients enrolled in the Autism Inpatient Collection (AIC) and outpatients enrolled in the Rhode Island Consortium of Autism Research and Treatment (RI-CART), revealed a number of factors associated with hospitalization. Multiple logistic regression analyses revealed that adaptive functioning, ASD symptom severity, primary caregiver's marital status, the presence of mood disorders, and the presence of sleep problems independently increased the risk of psychiatric hospitalization.

March 24, 2017

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders  

Tenenbaum, E.*, Amso, D., Righi, G., & Sheinkopf, S. J. (2017)

Previous work has demonstrated that social attention is related to early language abilities. We explored whether we can facilitate word learning among children with autism by directing attention to areas of the scene that have been demonstrated as relevant for successful word learning. We tracked eye movements to faces and objects while children watched videos of a woman teaching them new words. Test trials measured participants' recognition of these novel word-object pairings. Results indicate that for children with autism and typically developing children, pointing to the speaker's mouth while labeling a novel object impaired performance, likely because it distracted participants from the target object. In contrast, for children with autism, holding the object close to the speaker's mouth improved performance.

March 07, 2017

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Gerber, A. H.*, McCormick, C. E. B., Levine, T. P., Morrow, E. M., Anders, T. F., & Sheinkopf, S. J. (2017).


The current study investigated healthcare satisfaction and factors related to satisfaction in 92 adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Participants or their caregiver completed a survey about their experiences with primary care and specialty physicians. Respondents reported a high level of satisfaction with their healthcare. The only factor significantly associated with satisfaction was age, with participants under age 26 reporting significantly higher levels of satisfaction than participants above age 26. Participants under age 26 also were significantly more likely to live at home, have private health insurance, and have others making their healthcare decisions than participants above age 26. Results indicate that healthcare satisfaction can be high for adults with ASD that have good family and community support.

May 01, 2014

Rhode Island Medical Journal

 Gerber, A., Morrow, E., Sheinkopf, S. J., Anders, T. (2014).

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by core deficits in social interaction, language and repetitive behaviors. The need for services is rising sharply as the number of children identified with autism increases. The Rhode Island Consortium for Autism Research and Treatment (RI-CART) was founded in 2009 with the goal of increasing communication among autism researchers throughout the state and improving treatment for children with autism. RI-CART members have several exciting projects in progress, with its larger aim being the creation of a statewide research registry. A statewide registry would benefit research in Rhode Island and allow for larger collaborations nationally.

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