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The mission of the Program for Early Autism Research, Leadership & Service (PEARLS) is to conduct cutting-edge research that promotes insights into the early development of children with autism with translation to methods for detection and intervention, as well as interdisciplinary training of future leaders in the field. Thus, PEARLS focuses on aspects of Research, Leadership, and Service that will have the greatest impact on the lives of young children with autism and their families.

  • Through interdisciplinary research, PEARLS seeks to understand the development of social-communication and sensory-regulatory functions in young children with autism very early in life and to identify methods for improving early identification and evidence-based practices. Despite signs that symptoms of autism may be present in infancy, few children receive a definitive diagnosis of autism before three years of age. The huge time gap between the first emergence of symptoms and eventual diagnosis interferes with the family’s ability to obtain early intervention and support services. Research has shown that early, intensive behavioral interventions promote better long-term outcomes and social participation of children with autism. PEARLS is focused on the development of valid methods of early screening as well as efficacious interventions.
  • PEARLS strives to provide leadership preparation for graduate students and fellows at all levels of training to engage in scholarly pursuits or service related to our mission. Our goal is to recruit and support the very best trainees, from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, in order to ensure continued progress in understanding, preventing, and treating autism.
  • Finally, service is a critical part of the PEARLS mission. Our team partners with key stakeholders in local communities, university-affiliated programs, and state agencies to review current practices and establish networks that improve upon our current practices for early screening, assessment, and referral of young children with autism to available community resources. Investigators and trainees also provide a variety of seminars, consultations, and workshops related to the mission of PEARLS.

Contact Us
PEARLS Project Coordinator
Claire Chen