Daniela Plesa Skwerer, PhD
|Title||Research Assistant Professor|
|Institution||Boston University College of Arts and Sciences|
|Department||Psychological and Brain Sciences|
|Address||64 Cummington St|
Boston MA 02215
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.
- cognitive development
- neurodevelopmental disorders
- social-affective development
- Williams syndrome
- autism spectrum disorders
- social cognition and communication