Last Name

Daniela Plesa Skwerer, PhD

TitleResearch Assistant Professor
InstitutionBoston University College of Arts and Sciences
DepartmentPsychological and Brain Sciences
Address64 Cummington St
Boston MA 02215
Phone(617) 358-6713
ORCID ORCID Icon0000-0003-4136-8189
 Research Expertise & Professional Interests
My expertise and main research interests are in the areas of atypical development of language, communication, social cognition and social emotional development in children and adolescents with developmental disorders, with a particular focus on Williams syndrome (WS) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The primary lines of research I pursued have included:

1. Exploring social understanding and social-emotional development in people with developmental disorders (e.g., WS, ASD, Down syndrome) compared with children developing typically, using laboratory-based behavioral observations and experimental paradigms, eye tracking methods, developmental and standardized assessments of cognitive and social emotional functioning, and parent/caregiver reports. Recently completed studies focused on characterizing the social phenotype associated with WS and on exploring the neurocognitive mechanisms that underlie the unique social-affective features that define this neurodevelopmental disorder, relative to typical development and to other developmental disorders. The study of the social phenotype of WS contributes to the burgeoning fields of social-cognitive and social-affective neuroscience and might ultimately lead to new discoveries on the genetic and neurobiological substrates of social behavior.

2. Investigating communicative profiles and psychological understanding in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Currently my work focuses on minimally verbal children and adolescents with ASD who constitute about 30% of the ASD population but who have been largely left out of research studies due to the communication and behavioral challenges they present. My research employs a variety of methodological approaches adapted to the particular challenges of assessing this population, with a focus on language and communicative development. Ultimately, this research will provide a detailed phenotypic description of this neglected end of the autism spectrum, and may lead to innovative approaches to assessment and therapeutic interventions for the children and adolescents with ASD who will fail to develop speech.

 Self-Described Keywords
  • cognitive development
  • neurodevelopmental disorders
  • social-affective development
  • Williams syndrome
  • autism spectrum disorders
  • social cognition and communication
Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
List All   |   Timeline
  1. Tager-Flusberg H, Plesa Skwerer D, Joseph RM, Brukilacchio B, Decker J, Eggleston B, Meyer S, Yoder A. Conducting research with minimally verbal participants with autism spectrum disorder. Autism. 2016 Jun 26. PMID: 27354431.
    View in: PubMed
  2. Plesa Skwerer D, Tager-Flusberg H. Empathic responsiveness and helping behaviours in young children with Williams syndrome. J Intellect Disabil Res. 2016 Oct; 60(10):1010-9. PMID: 27273174.
    View in: PubMed
  3. Plesa Skwerer D, Jordan SE, Brukilacchio BH, Tager-Flusberg H. Comparing methods for assessing receptive language skills in minimally verbal children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Autism. 2016 Jul; 20(5):591-604. PMID: 26408635.
    View in: PubMed
  4. Plesa Skwerer D, Tager-Flusberg H. Innovative approaches to the study of social phenotypes in neurodevelopmental disorders: an introduction to the research topic. Front Psychol. 2013; 4:747. PMID: 24146658.
    View in: PubMed
  5. Skwerer DP, Ammerman E, Tager-Flusberg H. Do you have a question for me? How children with Williams syndrome respond to ambiguous referential communication during a joint activity. J Child Lang. 2013 Jan; 40(1):266-89. PMID: 22883814.
    View in: PubMed
  6. Plesa Skwerer D, Ammerman E, André MC, Ciciolla L, Fine AB, Tager-Flusberg H. A multimeasure approach to investigating affective appraisal of social information in Williams syndrome. J Neurodev Disord. 2011 Dec; 3(4):325-34. PMID: 22081426.
    View in: PubMed
  7. Grossman RB, Bemis RH, Plesa Skwerer D, Tager-Flusberg H. Lexical and affective prosody in children with high-functioning autism. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2010 Jun; 53(3):778-93. PMID: 20530388.
    View in: PubMed
  8. Plesa Skwerer D, Borum L, Verbalis A, Schofield C, Crawford N, Ciciolla L, Tager-Flusberg H. Autonomic responses to dynamic displays of facial expressions in adolescents and adults with Williams syndrome. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2009 Mar; 4(1):93-100. PMID: 19047076.
    View in: PubMed
  9. Tager-Flusberg H, Skwerer DP, Joseph RM. Model syndromes for investigating social cognitive and affective neuroscience: a comparison of Autism and Williams syndrome. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2006 Dec; 1(3):175-82. PMID: 18985104.
    View in: PubMed
  10. Skwerer DP, Verbalis A, Schofield C, Faja S, Tager-Flusberg H. Social-perceptual abilities in adolescents and adults with Williams syndrome. Cogn Neuropsychol. 2006; 23(2):338-49. PMID: 21049334.
    View in: PubMed
  11. Plesa Skwerer, D., & Tager-Flusberg, H. Williams-Beuren syndrome: Research, evaluation and clinical perspectives. Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore, MD. 2006; (pp. 237-253).
  12. Plesa-Skwerer D, Faja S, Schofield C, Verbalis A, Tager-Flusberg H. Perceiving facial and vocal expressions of emotion in individuals with Williams syndrome. Am J Ment Retard. 2006 Jan; 111(1):15-26. PMID: 16332153.
    View in: PubMed
  13. Plesa-Skwerer D, Sullivan K, Joffre K, Tager-Flusberg H. Self concept in people with Williams syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome. Res Dev Disabil. 2004 Mar-Apr; 25(2):119-38. PMID: 15026090.
    View in: PubMed
  14. Tager-Flusberg H, Plesa-Skwerer D, Faja S, Joseph RM. People with Williams syndrome process faces holistically. Cognition. 2003 Aug; 89(1):11-24. PMID: 12893122.
    View in: PubMed
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