The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders awarded a 3-year $468,000 grant to The Ohio State University Nisonger Center, part of the Wexner Medical Center and Ohio State’s Neurological Institute. The Grant will support the measurement of social communication outcomes in young children with autism spectrum disorder.

“If we don’t measure social communication effectively, we can’t know whether our treatments are working. I am excited that this project will bring together parents, teachers, and experts in the field to work toward creating an assessment tool that improves our ability to measure change in social communication, and ultimately improves treatment outcomes for young children with ASD,” said Katie Walton, PhD; Program Director for Nisonger Center’s Early Learning Program, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and principal investigator on this R21 award.

Social communication skills lay a foundation for the development of communicative competence and healthy social relationships across the lifespan. Early-emerging and persistent social communication deficits are a hallmark feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and therefore a frequent target for early intervention. Unfortunately, accurate measurement of change following early intervention is currently hindered by a lack of high-quality, easy-to-use outcome measures of social communication that are suitable for very young children with ASD. To fill this gap, this NIH R21 award will allow us to focus on the development and initial validation of items for new parent- and teacher-report questionnaires to better measure social communication outcomes in 2-6 year-olds with ASD. The resulting assessment tools will be designed to measure social communication effectively across young children with ASD who have different developmental and language levels, making these useful tools to track the outcomes of early intervention.

For more informaiton contact Tamara Hager at (614) 685-3196 or