McDaniel Awarded Grant to Study Vocalization ins Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

McDaniel Awarded Grant to Study Vocalization ins Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Ha Tran

The American Speech-Language Hearing Foundation has awarded Jena McDaniel, post-doctoral fellow at the Kansas Center for Autism Research and Training, a 2020 New Investigator Research Grant. The $10,000 award will fund research on improving the vocal production and language development for children with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD.

Jena McDaniel

McDaniel’s project focuses on helping the underserved population of children with autism spectrum disorder with minimal verbal skills in order to test interventions and measures that can help improve their verbal development.

“What we’re doing for this research is thinking about both the quality and the quantity of the child's vocalizations, and then trying to tease out exactly which piece of the intervention is the most helpful,” McDaniel said.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been postponing her research, McDaniel hopes to resume the study this year following new adjustments and precautions.

“We’re looking forward to hopefully beginning data collection in the summer or fall, pending that it is safe to do so,” she said. “In the meantime, we will be making preparations for the study by finalizing our procedures and training the study team, which will include KU students.” 

McDaniel is one of ten recipients of the competitive award, which supports new researchers’ work and activities. Her project is supported by the newly endowed Lois Bloom Language Development Research Fund. Dr. Lois and Robert Bloom established this fund to support researchers to advance assessment and treatment strategies for children with language disorders.