Ashlyn L. Smith, Ph.D.
Clinical Research Associate
2014-present Associate Clinical Researcher, Hussman Institute for Autism, Baltimore, MD
2012-2014 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
2011- 2012 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Communication, Toddler Language Intervention Project, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
2004-2011 Graduate Research Assistant/Lab Manager, Toddler Language Intervention Project, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
2011 Ph.D. Developmental Psychology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
2007 M.A. Psychology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
2003-2004 Research Assistant/Lab Manager, Toddler Language Intervention Project, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
2000-2003 Research Interventionist, Toddler Language Intervention Project Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
1999-2000 Research Assistant, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
1998 B.A. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
At the Hussman Institute for Autism, my research focuses on enhancing the communicative competence of young children with autism by providing parents and other communication partners with strategies to incorporate AAC into their daily lives. Specifically, my colleagues and I have developed a communication protocol that provides a model for coaching parents and other communication partners to use AAC with their children by presuming competence, following the child’s lead, providing opportunities for communication, modeling, and reinforcing communicative attempts. Additionally, I will be investigating collateral effects this may have on the family system in the areas of psychosocial wellbeing and sibling relationships.
During my Ph.D. with Dr. MaryAnn Romski at Georgia State University, I was part of a series of collaborative studies that examined symbolic language development of minimally verbal young children with developmental disabilities, and the impact of active parent involvement in intervention. These studies included children with genetic syndromes (e.g Down syndrome), cerebral palsy, autism, seizure disorders, and etiology of unknown origin. We found that language interventions that incorporated augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and parent coaching had a positive effect on young children who began the intervention with fewer than 10 spoken words.
In addition to my interest in parent coaching for AAC, I also developed an interest in the experience of parents whose children have developmental disabilities. My colleagues and I examined the effects of participating in this parent-coached language intervention on parent stress and parent perceptions of language development. We found that parents of children who had better expressive language at the beginning of intervention perceived their children’s communication difficulties as less severe and reported less parent stress following language intervention. We then expanded the scope to determine if there were syndrome-specific differences in these variables for parents of children with Down syndrome compared to parents of children with other disabilities. We found that parents of children with Down syndrome reported lower levels of total stress, child-related stress, and stress surrounding the parent-child interaction. Parents of children in both groups reported that they felt successful in their ability to impact their children’s communication development but differed on perceptions of difficulty such that parents of children with Down syndrome perceived their children’s communication difficulties as less severe despite similar language skills across groups.
During my postdoctoral fellowship, I worked with Dr. Katherine Hustad to examine parent perceptions of communication, the focus of early intervention goals and strategies, and factors predicting the implementation of (AAC) for young children with cerebral palsy. We found that receptive language had the strongest association with parent perceptions of communication. We also found that children who were not yet talking did receive AAC goals as part of their early intervention plans, but children who were emerging talkers yet still significantly delayed were not receiving AAC support.
Smith, A. & Hustad, K. (2015). AAC and early intervention for children with cerebral palsy: Parent perceptions and child risk factors. Manuscript accepted pending revisions.
Smith, A., Romski, M.A., Sevcik, R.A., Adamson, L.B., and Barker, R.M. (2014). Parent stress and perceptions of language development: Comparing Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. Family Relations, 63, 71-84. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991238/)
Smith, A., Romski, M.A., Sevcik, R.A. (2013). Examining the role of communication on sibling relationship quality and interaction for sibling pairs with and without a disability. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 118, 394-409. (PMID: 24245732)
Smith, A., Romski, M.A., Sevcik, R.A., Adamson, L.B., and Bakeman, R. (2011). Parental stress and its relation to parental perceptions of language following parent-coached language intervention. Journal of Early Intervention, 33, 135-150.
Barker, R. M., Romski, M. A., Sevcik, R. A., Adamson, L. B., Smith, A.L. & Bakeman, R. (in revision). Effects of extant receptive language and early language intervention focus on language outcomes for toddlers with developmental delays. Journal of Early Intervention.
Romski, M.A., Sevcik, R.A., Adamson, L.B., Smith, A., Cheslock, M., and Bakeman, R. (2011). Parent perceptions of language development before and after participation in parent-coached language interventions for toddlers with developmental delay. American Journal of Speech Language Pathology, 20, 111-118
Romski, M.A., Sevcik, R.A., Adamson, L.B., Cheslock, M., Smith, A., Barker, R.M., & Bakeman, R. (2010). Randomized comparison of augmented and non-augmented language interventions for toddlers with developmental delays and their parents. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 53, 350-364.
Romski, M.A., Sevcik, R.A., Adamson, L.B., Cheslock, M., & Smith, A. (2007). Parents can implement AAC interventions: Ratings of treatment implementation across early language interventions. Early Childhood Services, 1, 249-259.
Romski, M.A., Sevcik, R.A., Smith, A., Barker, R.M., Folan, S., & Barton-Hulsey, A. (2009). The system for augmenting language: Implications for young children with autism spectrum disorders. In P. Mirenda, T. Iacono, J. Light (Eds). AAC and Autism (pp 219-245). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.