Katarzyna Chawarska PhD

Associate Professor in the Child Study Center and of Pediatrics (General Pediatrics); Director, Toddler Developmental Disabilities Clinic

Research Interests

Social, cognitive, and emotional development of infants and toddlers with autism and other developmental disorders; eye tracking research of visual attention; early predictors of outcome; prodromal features of ASD in infancy; development of infants at risk for ASD due to genetic factors; treatment of young children with ASD; somatic growth patterns in ASD;

Current Projects

We are currently conducting studies on face scanning and recognition, attentional aspects of face processing, as well as perception of direct gaze and gaze-related intentional action in the first three year of life. Determining which components of gaze and face processing are impaired and which are preserved in infants and toddlers with ASD will help advance our appreciation of mechanisms underlying social abnormalities in the early stages of the disorder. This evolving understanding of the condition will be consequential for designing early screening and intervention methods.

Research Summary

My research interests focus primarily on two lines of inquiry: research leading to a better understanding of the early phenotypic expression of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and examining mechanisms that underlie gaze and face processing abnormalities observed in infants and toddlers with ASD. My clinical research has been centered on examining the stability of early diagnosis of ASD, variability of the early syndrome expression as related to outcome, as well as determining when and in which areas the developmental trajectories of infants with ASD begin to diverge from those without social disability. Towards this end I have been following prospectively the development of infants who are either at risk for development of ASD or who are showing early signs of the disorder and tracking their development of verbal, nonverbal and social-cognitive skills. Experimental work in my lab is focused on studying visual processing in young children with ASD using eye-tracking technology.

Extensive Research Description

My research interests focus primarily on two lines of inquiry:

  1. research leading to a better understanding of the early phenotypic expression of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and
  2. examining mechanisms that underlie gaze and face processing abnormalities observed in infants and toddlers with ASD.
My clinical research has been centered on examining the stability of early diagnosis of ASD, variability of the early syndrome expression as related to outcome, as well as determining when and in which areas the developmental trajectories of infants with ASD begin to diverge from those without social disability. Towards this end I have been following prospectively the development of infants who are either at risk for development of ASD or who are showing early signs of the disorder and tracking their development of verbal, nonverbal and social-cognitive skills. Experimental work in my lab is focused on studying visual processing in young children with ASD using eye-tracking technology.


Selected Publications

  • Shic, F., Macari, S. & Chawarska, K. (2013). Speech Disturbs Face Scanning in 6-Month-Olds who develop Autism Spectrum Disorder. Biological Psychiatry Online First.
  • Chawarska, K., Macari, S. & Shic, F. (2013). Decreased Spontaneous Attention to Social Scenes in 6-Month-Old Infants Later Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Biological Psychiatry. Online First
  • Steiner, A. M., G. W. Gengoux, Klin, A., & Chawarska, K. (2013). "Pivotal response treatment for infants at-risk for autism spectrum disorders: A pilot study." Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 43(1): 91-102.
  • Chawarska, K., Macari, S., & Shic, F. (2012). Context modulates attention to social scenes in toddlers with autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Online First
  • Macari, S., Campbell, D., Gengoux, G., Saulnier, C., Klin, A., & Chawarska, K. (2012). Predicting developmental status from 12 to 24 months in infants at risk for ASD. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Online First
  • Paul, R., Y. Fuerst, Ramsay, G., Chawarska, K., & Klin, A. (2011). "Out of the mouths of babes: vocal production in infant siblings of children with ASD." Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 52(5): 588-598.
  • Shic F, Bradshaw J, Klin A, Scassellati B, Chawarska K. (2011). Limited activity monitoring in toddlers with autism spectrum disorder. Brain Research. 1380(0), 246-254.
  • Chawarska, K., Campbell, D., Chen, L., Shic, F., Klin, A., Chang, J. (2011). Generalized overgrowth in boys with autism. Archives of General Psychiatry. 68 (10): 1021-1031
  • Chawarska K, Volkmar F, Klin A. Limited attentional bias for faces in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry. Feb 2010;67(2):178-185.
  • Chawarska K, Shic F. Looking but not seeing: Atypical visual scanning and recognition of faces in 2 and 4-year-old children with autism spectrum disorder. (2009). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 39(12): pp. 1663–1672

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