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Amy M. Wetherby


Amy M. Wetherby, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and Director of the Autism Institute in the College of Medicine and the Laurel Schendel Professor of Communication Disorders at Florida State University. She has 30 years of clinical experience and is a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Dr. Wetherby has published extensively and presents regularly at national conventions on early detection of children with autism spectrum disorder and intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder using the SCERTS model. She served on the National Academy of Sciences Committee for Educational Interventions for Children with Autism and is the Executive Director of the Florida State University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. She is the project director of research grants funded by U.S. Department of Education, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Autism Speaks.

Research or other Professional Activities

Dr. Wetherby directs the FIRST WORDS® Project, a longitudinal research investigation on early detection of ASD and other communication disorders, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, National Institutes of Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FIRST WORDS Project screens a general pediatric sample of children between 9 and 18 months of age for communication problems and follows the sample prospectively to identify children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental disorders. The primary research aims are to describe developmental trajectories of early red flags of ASD in the second year of life, to estimate the prevalence and diagnostic stability of ASD at 18-30 months of age, to improve and streamline screening and diagnostic tools for 18-24 month olds, and to compare early behavioral markers of ASD across diverse cultures.

Dr. Wetherby is the Principal Investigator for several experimental treatment studies of the efficacy of interventions for children with ASD. The Early Social Interaction Project is a collaborative research study with Dr. Catherine Lord at the University of Michigan to teach parents of toddlers with ASD how to support social communication and promote active engagement in everyday activities funded by Autism Speaks and the National Institute of Mental Health. The Classroom SCERTS Intervention study, co-directed by Dr. Lindee Morgan, is a study of the effectiveness of teachers of elementary school students in Florida and California implementing the SCERTS intervention model in the classroom. The primary research aims of these studies are to compare the effect of treatment intensity on children's outcomes, the examine the effect of the timing of treatment on children's developmental trajectories, to determine which features of active engagement and transactional supports are mediators of response to treatment, and to identify child and family characteristics that are moderators of response to treatment.

A primary mission of the FSU Autism Institute directed by Dr. Wetherby is to maximize the use of innovative video and computer information technology to bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and clinical/educational practice. She developed the ASD Video Glossary in collaboration with Nancy Wiseman, founder of First Signs Inc, and Autism Speaks to help parents and professionals learn more about the early red flags and diagnostic features of ASD. Using side-by-side video clips, it illustrates the subtle differences between typical and delayed development in young children and helps users spot the early red flags for ASD. Dr. Wetherby is working in collaboration with Dr. Juliann Woods and a team of national consultants to develop a web-based training tool to increase the capacity of early intervention providers to appropriately serve young children with ASD. 

Representative publications

Wetherby, A., Woods, J., Allen, L., Cleary, J., Dickinson, H., & Lord, C. (2004).  Early indicators of autism spectrum disorders in the second year of life.  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 34, 473-493.

Wetherby, A. & Woods, J. (2006). Effectiveness of early intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders beginning in the second year of life. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 26, 67-82.

Wetherby, A., Watt, N., Morgan, L., & Shumway, S. (2007). Social communication profiles of children with autism spectrum disorders in the second year of life. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 960-975.

Morgan, L., Wetherby, A., & Barber, A. (2008). Repetitive and Stereotyped Movements in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders Late in the Second Year of Life. Journal of Childhood Psychology and Psychiatry, 49(8), 826-837

Wetherby, A., Brosnan-Maddox, S., Peace, V., & Newton, L. (2008). Validation of the Infant-Toddler Checklist as a broadband screener for autism spectrum disorders from 9 to 24 months of age. Autism, 12 (5), 455-479.