Katarzyna Chawarska, PhD, is associate professor in the Yale Child Study Center and of Pediatrics. She directs theYale Toddler Developmental Disabilities Clinic and Yale Early Social Cognition Laboratory at the Child Study Center. Dr. Chawarska conducts clinical translational research focused on improving early diagnostic practices in ASD, understanding factors underlying heterogeneity of the syndrome expression, and developing novel measures for quantifying and stratifying complex autism-related phenotypes. This work has led to numerous publications on early behavioral, neurobehavioral, and biological markers of ASD and predictors of outcome into preschool and early school age both in infants at risk due to familial liability and clinic-referred toddlers. Work in her lab has focused on studying visual attention and its links with social disability in ASD. This work has demonstrated that deficits in social attention are particularly apparent in tasks relying on endogenous control of visual attention in response to complex social scenes. Such deficits are observed both during the prodromal and early syndromal stages of the disorders, suggesting a link with primary factors related to autism. Her group has also found that individual variation in the attention regulation patterns observed in the second year of life is predictive of clinical outcomes and can be useful for stratifying the affected toddlers into more homogenous clinically-relevant subgroups. Some of the candidate markers tasks being tested through the work of the Consortium have been developed in her lab.
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