Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities

Juniper Gardens has over 20 years of research focused on supporting the needs of children with autism and their families. As we continue to learn more about how to support the evolving needs of children with neurodevelopmental conditions, such as autism, our scientists at Juniper Gardens develop new innovations and investigate the effects of existing interventions in novel contexts and with diverse populations. This work includes investigations of interventions delivered in community, school, and home-based settings.

Mother looking at elementary aged child who is looking at a pink tablet computer

Research Highlights

A child seated on a carpeted floor and viewed from above is pointing at the words on a page of a book with cartoon fish

Project: Autism Intervention Research Network on Behavioral Health (AIR-B)

The purpose of this program is to establish and maintain an interdisciplinary, multi-center research platform for scientific collaboration and infrastructure building. The Research Network will develop evidence-based practices for interventions to improve the behavioral health across the lifespan of children and adolescents with ASD/DD as they transition to adulthood, develop guidelines for those interventions, and disseminate information related to such research.
Linzi Shriner and her daughter Baylee

News: Exploring Predictors of Response to a Peer-Mediated Interventions for Preschoolers with Autism and Limited or No Spoken Communication

JGCP Investigator Dr. Kathy Bourque recently presented results of a 2-year study funded by NIDCD at the Gatlinburg annual conference in Kansas City and the International Society of Autism Research (INSAR) conference in Stockholm Sweden. Within five districts over the last 2 years, the research team provided a peer-mediated intervention (PMI) to 24 preschoolers with autism with limited or no spoken language, along with 47 peer buddies. The goal was to explore what child characteristics may predict response to a peer-mediated intervention that taught peers to be responsive communication and play partners. Preliminary outcomes for 18 children show that change in how often children communicated to peers in structured play after PMI was significantly related to higher receptive language at baseline. Further, change in how often children took turns communicating and engaged in longer exchanges with peers in free play was significantly related to higher expressive language at baseline. Identifying child behaviors is important to be able to tailor PMIs to be most effective across different preschool social settings.
Hana Tamura

Featured Researcher: Hana Tamura

Hana Tamura is an Assistant Researcher at Juniper Gardens. She has provided invaluable support on Dr. Kathy Bourque’s research projects focused on peer interventions for preschoolers with autism. Hana wears many different hats in her role, as an implementer of interventions, a reliable coder of social communication, and master programmer of iPads to be used as augmentative communication devices. Hana will be leaving Juniper this summer to continue her studies at Vanderbilt University to become a Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. We will miss you and wish you all the best Hana!