Child clinical psychology, intellectual disability, dual diagnosis, developmental psychopathology, parent education, program evaluation, families.
My primary research seeks a better understanding of family functioning and effective intervention programs for families. I am especially interested in three populations: (1) Families of children and adolescents with intellectual disability (2) Families of young children with behavior problems and (3) Young children in high-risk families.
Our primary current research is the Collaborative Family Study, a NICHD-supported longitudinal study of young children, with and without intellectual disability, and their families. This is a three site study, in collaboration with Dr. Crnic at Arizona State University and Dr. Blacher at UC Riverside. There is much evidence that persons with intellectual disability are at greatly heightened risk for mental disorder, but there is little known about early manifestations in childhood or about causal pathways. We are in the 14th year of a longitudinal study funded by NICHD. We have followed 200 young children from age 3 to 9 years and at age 13, focusing on familyprocesses and the development of behavior problems and social competence. A particular focus is on how parenting practices affect the child's development of self regulation abilities, and how these in turn affect the onset of emotional and behavioral disorders. Our measures are obtained from parents, youth, and schools, and include questionnaires, interviews, naturalistic observations, and coding of target laboratory tasks. We are presently conducting adolescent assessments at age 15, with our continuing longitudinal families as well as a newly recruited sample at age 13 comprised of youth with high-functioning autism and their families. We are conducting assessments in English or Spanish and will further examine parenting processes and cultural influences within Anglo and Latino families. Our lab is also involved in Smooth Sailing, an IES-funded study (Jan Blacher, PI) of young children with autism spectrum disorder, examining predictors of child functioning during the first two years of schooling. I am also involved in evaluating early intervention programs. I have carried out program evaluations for some time at Children’s Institute Inc., Los Angeles’ leading child abuse, neglect, and trauma agency. Presently I am the program evaluator for Project Stable Home (located at Harbor/UCLA Medical Center in Torrance). PSH focuses on children aged 0-3 years who have been born at risk due to mothers’ substance abuse and multiple other risk factors. We have just completed a four-year randomly controlled study of two evidence-based approaches to early intervention with these families.