Kids We Work With

The Kasari Lab primarily works with children who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. We also have a study for children with Down syndrome. Check out our Current Projects page for more information about these studies.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by difficulties in social interaction, delays in communication and engagement, and in repetitive patterns of behaviors. The term ‘spectrum’ refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairments that children with ASD can display. The symptoms vary from mild impairments to severely impacted characteristics that can interfere with everyday life.

Autism Spectrum Disorder affects 1 in every 68 children in the United States (CDC, 2014).

Early Signs and Symptoms
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Does not respond to name
  • Lack of descriptive gestures (for example, point, give, show)
  • Lack of interest in other people (for example, does not look at objects when someone else points at them)
  • Does not point at objects to show interest (for example, does not point at an airplane flying over)
  • Does not imitate
  • Echoes what others say, lack of spontaneous language
  • Lack of make believe or pretend play (for example, does not pretend to “feed” a doll)
  • Lines items up or repeatedly put things in order
  • Difficulties with changes in daily routines
  • Has unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel

Down syndrome

Down syndrome occurs when an individual has an extra full or partial copy of chromosome 21 which causes developmental and intellectual delays. A few of the common physical traits of Down syndrome are low muscle tone, a single crease across the palm, a flattened facial profile, and an upward slant to the eyes. There are three different types of Down syndrome: trisomy 21 (nondisjunction), translocation, and mosaicism. Although there are three different types, trisomy accounts for about 95% of documented cases.

How Common is Down syndrome?

About every 1 in 691 babies in the United States are born with Down syndrome. A 35 year old woman has about a 1 in 350 chance of conceiving a child with Down syndrome, and this chance increases gradually to 1 in 100 by age 40. At age 45 the incidence becomes approximately 1 in 30. The age of the mother does not seem to be linked to the risk of translocation.

Behavioral Signs and Symptoms

Mental health and behavioral issues vary depending on the age and developmental characteristics of the individual, but some common symptoms present in young and early school age children are:

  • Disruptive, impulsive, or hyperactive behaviors
  • Anxious or inflexible behaviors
  • Deficits in ability to create and maintain social relationships
  • Repetitive, stereotyped behaviors
  • Chronic sleep difficulties

Some of these behavioral issues–such as inflexibility, repetitive behaviors, and the inability to maintain relationships–may also indicate the coexistence of ASD.

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