Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the most challenging of the childhood behavioral disorders. For most affected individuals, the impact of autism continues through adulthood. Children and adults with autism frequently suffer as well from various medical and psychiatric disorders, further complicating its treatment and management. Parents’ and clinicians’ attention to the occurring disorders can greatly improve the quality of life and health of affected individuals. That is why it is important to stress early intervention for children with Autism.
Dr. Daniel Messinger, the principal investigator of the SIB SMILE lab, is an associate professor in the Child Division of the Department of Psychology and in the departments of Pediatrics and Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Miami. His current research aims to further understand emotional and social interaction and development of typically developing infants, infants who have autistic siblings, and children with autism spectrum disorders. He is using automated measurement and ratings of facial expressions to explore emotion and interaction. Additionally, Dr. Messinger is examining dynamic systems and the impact of real-time processes (sharing a smile) on developmental processes (secure attachment). Devon Gangi graduated with a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Miami. She is enrolled in the Developmental Psychology track as a graduate student in the SIB SMILE Lab. As part of her undergraduate senior honor’s thesis, Devon investigated the relationship between initiating joint attention and language ability in high-risk infants for developing an Autism Spectrum Disorder. In her graduate work at the SIB SMILE Lab, she hopes to investigate the genetic factors of temperament.
On ‘Not For Profit,’ Dr. Daniel Messinger and Devon talk about UM SIBSMILE (Sibling Studies Measuring Infant Learning and Emotion) a research study that investigates the social, emotional, and cognitive development of children between 2 months to 4 years of age. The research data is used to examine differences in the development of younger siblings of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and those with a typically developing older sibling.