Autism Research and Resource Fair

Autism Resource Fair

Autism Research and Resource Fair

The USC Early Social Development Lab and SPARK at MUSC are hosting an autism research and resource fair on February 15 at the USC Columbia campus! This free event will include research study opportunities such as SPARK enrollments and parent workshops on Toilet Training, Teaching Requests: Strategies to Improve Communication, and Social Skills/Executive Function. Representatives from local autism organizations will be onsite hosting activities for kids and talking about their services with the community. Childcare will also be available.

We’ll have a table at this event, so we hope to see you there!

For more information and to register for workshops, click here.


Erin Hunt

Welcome Erin Hunt!

We’re excited to introduce a new graduate student in our lab, Erin Hunt! Erin joined our team back in August and is currently a first year student in the Clinical Community Psychology program at UofSC.

Erin completed a B.S. in Cognitive Neuroscience with a minor in Chemistry from Fordham University in 2017. Throughout her undergraduate career, she worked in the Fordham Memory and Aging Lab as a research assistant and completed a senior thesis examining the effects of menstrual cycle phase on cognition and autobiographical memory. After graduation, Erin completed a two-year research assistantship at the Child Mind Institute’s Healthy Brain Network, a community-based research program aiming to identify biomarkers underlying mental health and learning disorders in children and adolescents. Her current research interests include exploring developmental trajectories of neurocognitive abilities, such as inhibitory control, in relation to maladaptive outcomes in both typically developing children and children with neurodevelopmental disorders.


NDD Lab at the Columbia Autism Speaks Walk

We were so excited to participate in the inaugural Columbia Autism Speaks Walk on November 10! We were joined by several other labs at USC that are currently recruiting participants for autism research.

You can learn more about research opportunities related to autism here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/SCAutismResearch


Cartoon of a superhero brain

New Neuroscience Club at UofSC

There’s a new club for UofSC students who are interested in neuroscience! The Neuroscience Club was founded to foster a shared passion for learning about the brain. Open to every student regardless of their major, their purpose is to increase engagement and education of neuroscience by exposing students to the neuroscience research being conducted on campus. In addition to recruiting more students to the neuroscience minor, the club is interested in creating community support to bring a neuroscience major to UofSC.

They’re hosting several events throughout the semester to showcase diverse career opportunities in the interdisciplinary field of neuroscience. They also seek to bring awareness to mental health and brain disorders and diseases through community service.

For more information, check out their profile on Garnet Gate and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.


Silhouette of a head with a puzzle piece shaped cutout

UofSC Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders Center of Excellence

Dr. Jane Roberts and Dr. Jeff Twiss were recently awarded funding to develop a center of excellence for autism and neurodevelopmental disorders research at the University of South Carolina (UofSC). This initiative aims to build a multi-disciplinary, collaborative center for basic, clinical, and intervention research and education in autism and neurodevelopmental disorders. This exciting collaborative effort has the potential to impact prevention, diagnosis, treatment and interventions for autism and related disorders.

Learn more.


girls in a park

Do you have a daughter with autism?

Carla Wall, a doctoral student in the NDD Lab, is currently recruiting young girls with autism to participate in a limited study.

She is recruiting participants who meet the following criteria:

  • Girls (approx. 4-5 years old) with autism and a developmental delay
  • Families must live in Columbia, SC or be willing to drive to the USC Columbia campus

The study involves a play-based, interactive assessment of the child’s behavioral and developmental skills. The child will also participate in an eye-tracking experiment and will wear a small heartrate monitor throughout the assessment.

Participants will receive a $100 stipend for their time.

For more information about this opportunity, please contact Carla Wall by phone (803-777-5676) or email (carlaaw@email.sc.edu).


Robin and Sam Blackwood

Mom Shares Fragile X Story to Encourage Researchers

The first sign of trouble was when Robin Blackwood’s baby boy didn’t want to play peek-a-boo or pattycake, even after his first birthday.

“He wasn’t really communicating or trying to imitate. That’s when we started realizing something was up and wanted to try to get some answers.”

She’s telling Sam’s story to an audience of doctors and researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina during the South Carolina Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Consortium’s research symposium. It’s a chance for them to hear from one of the people their work is aimed at helping.

Testing showed Sam has fragile X syndrome, caused by a genetic mutation. “My husband and I researched and really have spent the last 8 years trying to understand what fragile X is, what it would mean to Sam, what the symptoms are,” Blackwood says of the incurable condition.

“We know learning disability is the prominent one, but also autism is highly likely. Anxiety, ADHD, sensory processing disorder. Sam has all of these issues.”

Read more.


Fragile X chromosome illustration

Fragile X Day is July 22!

Don’t forget! July is Fragile X Awareness Month, and July 22 is National Fragile X Awareness Day. Follow us on Facebook for special updates throughout the month!


UofSC mascot Cocky in Chicago

The NDD Lab Goes to the Windy City!

We’re excited to be conducting a special study with collaborators at Loyola University in Chicago to learn more about brain development in infants and children with fragile X syndrome! The ultimate goal of this study is to enable early detection and promote targeted early intervention services so children with fragile X syndrome can learn to their full potential.

We are currently recruiting families in the Chicago area with children & infants 8 years old or younger who have been diagnosed with fragile X syndrome or the FMR1 premutation. The assessments will take place in the Chicago area.

For more information, click here!

We’d love to talk with you about this opportunity! Please contact us by email or by phone at (803) 777-5676 for more information or if you’re interested in participating.

One of our child participants wearing an EEG cap.

Libby Tillman and Bobbie Schermbeck at Discover USC 2019

Undergraduate Research Awards

We’re excited to announce that several of our undergraduate research assistants were awarded research grants for the upcoming summer and fall semesters!

Magellan Scholar Award:

  • Margaret Besse, Sensory Processing and Anxiety in Autism
  • Hannah Pressler, Biobehavioral Mechanisms of ADHD in Preschoolers with Fragile X Syndrome
  • Malorie Webb, Syndrome-Specific Attention Profiles in Infants with Fragile X Syndrome and Down Syndrome

Science Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) Program:

  • Isabelle Robinson

Exploration Scholars Program:

  • Matt Caputo

Learn how you can take part in our research