Focus on Attention Study: Shriver Center / UMass Medical School

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Dear LABBB Community:

The LABBB Colaborative has been invited to take part in The Focus of Attention research study at the E.K. Shriver Center/UMass Medical School. LABBB has a long standing relationship with the Shriver Center. Many LABBB families have participated in research studies in the past, and LABBB has also hosted studies with the Shriver Center/UMass Medical School in our Arlington and Bedford programs.The Focus of Attention research study is currently looking for students with intellectual disability *without* an autism diagnosis between the ages of 7-21 to study a teaching strategy to address an attention issue called stimulus overselectivity.

Stimulus overselectivity causes some children to focus their attention on just one letter in a word, one feature of a face (e.g., the eyes), or one aspect of an object (e.g., just the color). “Stimulus overselectivity” is also known as “over-selective attention”.  Children with over-selective attention may have difficulty recognizing objects, words, and sometimes people.

The research study is currently investigating a teaching intervention that may encourage students with overselectivity to have a wider focus of attention. This intervention teaches the student to spend more time carefully observing items when identifying them. Ongoing experiments are studying ways to teach preliminary skills for this observing strategy, asking whether this intervention will be more or less successful with children who have autism vs. other types of developmental disabilities, and to what extent the intervention can produce lasting benefits.

This research project is funded by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center and University of Massachusetts Medical School. The Principal Investigator is Dr. William Dube, who has over 20 years of experience researching attention and focusing in children with autism and developmental disabilities.

There are a number of possible benefits to having your child participate in this research:

  • Your child may enjoy one-on-one time with research staff who will share activities that are like matching games.
  • Your child’s observational skills may benefit from the experimental sessions with the teaching strategy.
  • You may ask for a brief report about your child’s progress.
  • The school may benefit because the knowledge gained may lead to better teaching methods for children with developmental disabilities.

Participation in this research is completely voluntary. If you are interested in learning more about the study, or possibly having your child participate, you may contact the research coordinator, for an initial screening to see if your child might be eligible. Research Coordinator contact information:

Lucy Lorin

Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center/UMass Medical School


Thank you for your interest!



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