An assistant professor at Indiana University is leading a four-year project aimed at improving autistic toddlers' ability to communicate.
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a nearly $3.5 million grant to IU special education specialist Hannah Schertz and two colleague at other universities to test the effectiveness of an approach that targets pre-verbal social communication between toddlers younger than age 2 1/2 and their parents.
Schertz says the idea is to intervene before the children's social patterns have become set and develop their communications skills through back-and-forth play with their parents.
The project will involve toddlers from diverse groups in Indiana, North Carolina and Kansas.
The other scientists involved are Samuel Odom of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Kathleen Baggett of the University of Kansas.