Promoting Positive Outcomes in Children and Youth with Autism by Tackling Heterogeneity

This Kennedy Center special lecture was presented on February 6, 2024.

Heterogeneity is a hallmark of autism spectrum disorder in that children and youth with autism present with a wide range of abilities and challenges. Such variability poses clear challenges to measuring symptoms and strengths precisely and to tailoring supports and services effectively for those impacted by autism. Co-occurring mental health problems are an important aspect that contributes to the heterogeneous symptom profiles, and understanding risk and resilience factors related to psychological well-being is essential for providing appropriate support to individuals with autism. Moreover, this type of mechanism research cannot be done without thoughtfully designed measures applied appropriately to capture the nuanced behavioral and developmental profiles in autism for phenotyping, screening, diagnosis, and evaluation of treatment responses.

Presenter bio:
Dr. Shuting Zheng is a developmental scientist and board-certified behavior analyst with expertise in assessment and behavioral treatment for children and youth with autism spectrum disorder. Her research interest has developed around the overarching theme of understanding developmental heterogeneity in autism and treatment individualization for individuals with autism. Specifically, her current research program focuses on (1) improving the application and the design of behavioral measures by understanding the influence of individual characteristics (e.g., biological sex, cognitive and language abilities, race/ethnicity, and socio-economic status) on the measurement of autism symptoms and associated challenges; and (2) identifying risk and resilience factors (both at the individual and contextual levels) of psychological well-being and functional outcomes in autistic individuals through qualitative and quantitative investigations of their everyday experience. Dr. Zheng plans to bring the two aspects of her research together to inform treatment design and adaptation to improve the well-being of autistic individuals with all levels of abilities and from all backgrounds. Her work has been supported by intramural and extramural funding mechanisms and federal and private funders, including the National Institute of Mental Health and Autism Science Foundation.

Captions coming soon.

Last Updated: 2/14/2024 10:48:18 AM

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