Amy Wetherby, Ph.D.

Laurel Schendel Professor of Communication Disorders, Florida State University

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Amy Miller Wetherby is a distinguished research professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences and director of the Autism Institute in the Florida State University College of Medicine and the Laurel Schendel Professor of Communication Disorders.

She has over 35 years of clinical experience and has an Honors of the Association Award from American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She is the executive director of the Florida State University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. She served on the National Academy of Sciences Committee for Educational Interventions for Children with Autism and on the DSM-5 Neurodevelopmental Workgroup of the American Psychiatric Association. She is also director of the FIRST WORDS Project, a longitudinal research investigation on early detection of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other communication disorders, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Education.

Wetherby has been co-principal investigator on several randomized controlled trials, including the Early Social Interaction Project, an early treatment study to teach parents of toddlers with ASD how to support social communication in everyday activities (funded by Autism Speaks and NIH) and another efficacy study training teachers to support communication of students with ASD in the classroom (funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences).

Wetherby brings unique research and clinical expertise in early detection, parent-implemented interventions for infants and toddlers with ASD and community-based screening and interventions, in addition to experience directing multisite studies. She has extensive experience developing and implementing screening tools for ASD and communication disorders in large population-based samples of children (9–24 months of age).

She is lead investigator of a randomized controlled trial that is part of the Emory Autism Center of Excellence (principal investigator: Ami Klin) to test the efficacy of teaching parents of infants with early signs of ASD how to embed evidence-based intervention strategies into everyday activities. She is co-developer of Autism Navigator®, an innovative collection of tools and courses designed to bridge the gap between science and community practice using a highly interactive web platform with extensive video footage to illustrate effective evidence-based practice.

She is also the lead investigator on an NIH-funded multisite health services research study using a new screening tool, the Early Screening for Autism and Communication Disorders (Smart ESAC) tool, which will have important implications for mobilizing communities to improve family action, participation and engagement in early screening and diagnosis of ASD and other communication disorders and entry into early interventions. In addition, she is the principal investigator of a new Autism Center of Excellence that aims to blend clinical effectiveness and implementation research designs to study individual and combined effects of two evidence-based interventions in real world settings.

The overarching goal of the collective efforts of her research is to build the capacity of healthcare systems to improve early detection and provide access to cost-efficient early interventions that are feasible for far-reaching community implementation.

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