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Center for Motor Behavior & Pediatric Disabilities

Current Research

Social and Communication Development of Young Children with Down Syndrome or Autism

Contact: Susan Risi (

We are interested in children's communication, social, and play behaviors. We primarily do research with children with autism and autism spectrum disorders. The two instruments most widely used by researchers and clinicians are the Autism Diagnostic Interview (the ADI-R is for parents) and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (the ADOS is for children). We need to learn a lot more about what these instruments can tell us about children with other disorders (such as Down syndrome) who may also have communication, social or play difficulties, but DO NOT have autism.

We have become interested in the social and communication behavior of children with a range of developmental delays. Our staff has years of experience working with children with autistic spectrum disorders and other communication impairments. Currently, we are being funded to learn more about the effectiveness of our diagnostic instruments in differentiating children with autistic spectrum disorders from those with other developmental delays or disorders unrelated to autism. Children with Down syndrome are of special interest in this research endeavor since they may share some language difficulties, but generally have a different pattern of social strengths than do children with autism. We would like to evaluate children with Down syndrome aged 16 to 36 months using the ADI-R, ADOS, and measures of mental age and language development. Participation in this study will require approximately 5 hours of your and your child's time, over the course of the study. We are willing to come to your home, or you can meet with us at our center at the University of Michigan. As parents, you will receive a written report giving feedback on your child's language and cognitive functioning, as well as a $100 gift card for full participation. To participate, please contact Susan Risi at (734) 936-8600, or 866-968-6222 (toll free) or send an email to

All Current Research

Center for Motor Behavior & Pediatric Disabilities
401 Washtenaw Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2214
(734)936-2607, Fax (734)936-1925

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Created September 1, 1999