Children with Autism Spectrum Condition are characterised by difficulties with social communication together with restricted and repetitive behaviours. Symptom profiles show striking variability which may be driven, in part, by co-occurrence with other neurodevelopmental conditions, such as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Callous Unemotional (CU) traits and anxiety. Our research takes a developmental perspective, using quantitative modelling to delineate the pathways involved in comorbidity. Characterising symptoms and their overlap as they emerge is important for teasing apart different theoretical models of comorbidity, and in the longer-term, for informing more targeted intervention strategies.
The PACS project, conducted at the Bath Babylab, explores why young children behave and think differently from one another. Our research aims to characterise profiles of attention and cognition in pre-schoolers. When children reach three-to-five-years-of-age, traits and behaviours associated with developmental conditions, such as autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, first become measurable. We are interested in characterising the early cognitive profile associated with these traits.
The Mapping Profiles of Cognition, Motivation and Attention in Childhood (C-MAPS) project aims to investigate whether children’s social abilities, motivation and attention underpin differences in how they interact with other people. In particular we are interested in whether individual differences in these constructs of attention and social motivation are linked to emotion recognition difficulties in children with Callous Unemotional traits and traits of Autism Spectrum Condition.
King's Prize Fellowship
Biomarker Index for Autism Spectrum Condition: A transdiagnostic approach
The aim of this project is to construct a biomarker index, which combines multiple neurocognitive markers, and to test its sensitivity and specificity to Autism Spectrum Condition as compared to other co-occurring conditions.
The British Autism Study of Infant Siblings (BASIS)
The British Autism Study of Infant Siblings (BASIS) project investigates whether there are any differences in development between infants who have siblings with autism and those who do not. Hundreds of children have been seen across four separate cohorts; Phase 0, Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3. In the long term, this study will help identify the early signs of the disorder, allowing for earlier and more effective intervention aimed at improving the quality of life of children with autism.
Transforming Autism Care Consortium (TACC)
We collaborated with the Transforming Autism Care Consortium (TACC) project, to include eye-tracking measures within their clinical assessments of children at the time of ASC diagnosis.
Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship
A cross syndrome approach to atypical development
This aim of this project was to test the hypothesis that overlap in symptomatology between ASC, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Callous Unemotional (CU) traits can arise from both common and distinct infant trajectories.
The British Autism Study of Infant Siblings (BASIS)
Durham Child Health and Development Study
The Durham Child Health and Development Study (DCHDS) is a longitudinal study which examined social, emotional and cognitive development. The study followed a cohort of approximately 200 children charting development from infancy, through toddlerhood and into childhood.
Wirral Child Health and Development Study
The Wirral Child Health and Development Study (WCHDS) is a prospective, epidemiological child development study. The study was established to identify early social, emotional and biological risks and processes involved in the development of childhood conduct problems. First time mothers (n = 1233), and their partners (n = 1014), who presented for antenatal care at the sole provider of prenatal care in the region were consecutively recruited into the study at their 20 week scan. The study used a two stage stratified design in which a consecutive general population sample (the ‘extensive’ sample) was used to generate a smaller ‘intensive’ sample stratified by psychosocial risk with more detailed measurement over time, and both are followed in tandem. The sample have been followed up with repeated observational, physiological, interview and questionnaire assessment at multiple time points throughout infancy and childhood, most recently at age 11 years.
Other Collaborative Projects
Family and Child Emotion Socialization Study (FACES)
The Pathways ASD study is a large longitudinal Canadian study examining the growth and development of autistic children. This study runs across three key phases: 1) early childhood, 2) late childhood and 3) adolescence, with a clear focus on better understanding the developmental trajectories of autistic young people. Over the years, the Pathways ASD study have been interested in exploring how different aspects of the child’s behaviour and their environment (e.g. family life, treatments, academic progress, mental health and daily living skills) impact on development. Finally, this study has been pivotal in influencing autism policy making in Canada, finding new ways to improve the interactions between parents, researchers and policy makers.
iBASIS is a study within the BASIS network which aimed to test the impact of a parent-administered intervention which used video-feedback to help parents understand and adapt to their infant’s individual communication style to promote optimal social and communicative development.