Elizabeth Crais, Ph.D.
ASD Researchers at UNC
Professor/Department of Allied Health Sciences, Division of Speech and Hearing Science
Dr. Crais is a Professor in the Department of Allied Health’s Division of Speech and Hearing Science and a Fellow at UNC’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. She is also the faculty advisor for the student Autism Speaks U chapter at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her research activities have direct application to providing services to young children with special needs and their families.
Dr. Crais has been part of the Program for Early Autism Research, Leadership, and Service (PEARLS) research team along with Drs. Linda Watson, Lauren Turner-Brown, and the late Dr. Steve Reznick. They collectively developed a parent-report tool, the First Year Inventory (FYI), focused on identifying 12-month-old children who are at risk for ASD and other communicative disorders. They piloted the tool with more than 1,100 families and followed those children at three years of age to identify the sensitivity and specificity of the tool (Turner-Brown et al., 2012). They are currently working on an expansion of the FYI (First Years Inventory) to screen children 10 to 16 months of age and have already collected normative data on thousands of children. The researchers’ ultimate goal is for physicians and other front-line providers (who see children and families in the first two years of life) to use it to screen all children for autism.
Dr. Crais is also the Co-Director (along with Dr. Harriet Able in Applied Developmental Science and Special Education, and Dr. Nancy Bagatell in Occupational Science/Occupational Therapy) of three PhD level grants funded by the Office of Special Education from the U.S. Department of Education. All three grants focus on preparing PhD students in specialty areas such as ASD, translational and community engaged research, closing the research to practice gap, and developing meaningful outcomes for children with disabilities and their parents.