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Study of Autism and Self-Regulation (STAR)

Study of Autism and Self-Regulation

The Study of Autism and Self-Regulation is investigating the self-regulation skills of 3- to 6-year-old children with autism spectrum disorder and how these skills are related to their adaptive functioning and social-emotional competence. The focus of the current study is on children’s ability to regulate their behavior during emotion-eliciting events.

We use a multi-method approach for assessing children’s skills. For example, we document individual differences in children’s ability to regulate physiological arousal, as well as behavioral signs of children’s emotion-regulation skills, such as facial expressions, gestures, attention patterns, and verbal comments during a set of emotion-eliciting tasks.


Study investigators

Beverly​ Wilson

Professor of Clinical Psychology
PhD, University of Washington

Email: bjwilson@spu.edu
Phone: 206-281-2832
Office: Marston 109

Bev Wilson earned her PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of Washington. She completed her clinical internship through the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington.  Before coming to SPU, she was a faculty member at Oregon State University for several years. Dr. Wilson’s research investigates how self-regulation and emotion processes are related to children’s positive development. She is especially interested in the potential protective function of these skills for at-risk children, such as children with autism spectrum disorder, general cognitive delays, or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, as well as children with conduct problems and children from low-income families. With her research team she also investigates the roles of child individual differences, such as temperament and parenting in children’s development of self-regulation skills. Dr. Wilson is passionate about her work with children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. She is the cofounder and director of the Initiative for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the goals of which are to train students and professionals working in this field as well educate the larger SPU and Seattle communities regarding disabilities.

For more information contact:

Audrey Lee, MS
STARlab@spu.edu
503-395-7702
Seattle Pacific University

Meet the research team

About the Study of Autism and Self-Regulation Project (STAR)

The study

The Study of Autism and Self-Regulation is investigating the self-regulation skills of 3- to 6-year-old children with autism spectrum disorder and how these skills are related to their adaptive functioning and social-emotional competence. The focus of the current study is on children’s ability to regulate their behavior during emotion-eliciting events.

Method

We use a multi-method approach for assessing children’s skills. For example, we document individual differences in children’s ability to regulate physiological arousal, as well as behavioral signs of children’s emotion regulation skills such as facial expressions, gestures, attention patterns, and verbal comments during a set of emotion-eliciting tasks.

Relevance

Children’s performance on these tasks has practical importance to their social and educational competence. Children frequently encounter similar tasks in home and school settings, such as waiting to receive a desired object or resisting the temptation to act in an inappropriate way. Consequently, one aspect of our multi-method approach involves asking parents and teachers to report about children’s emotion regulation and executive control in these settings.

The goal

A better understanding the skills and characteristics that facilitate children’s performance on these tasks may lead to better intervention services for children with ASD. These interventions may help improve children’s classroom behavior and real-world social problem-solving skills where control over emotion, attention, and behavior are most important. Several dissertation students are gathering data as part of this larger study.

SPU’s Autism Research Benefits Parents, Teachers

“How do kids with autism spectrum disorder cope with a tough situation — such as waiting for something they want? They may try sitting on their hands or whistling. By observing young children’s coping strategies, researchers can develop behavior interventions for parents and teachers to help children with ASD better adjust in school and at home.”

Living Well Initiative

SPU believes its ministry extends beyond the classroom into the broader community. The Living Well Initiative is a multidisciplinary educational program addressing the needs of those affected by severe, persistent mental health conditions. 

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