Research at ELI

The Early Learning Institute conducts applied research that seeks to directly improve the lives of individuals with ASD and their families in two ways. Our scientists examine strategies to move efficacious treatments for children with ASD into community settings and look to identify new targeted interventions that improve the core characteristics of ASD. The emphasis is on interdisciplinary research to discover and disseminate optimal behavioral and educational interventions for individuals with ASD. Research faculty work closely with graduate and undergraduate students to plan and carry out studies that directly improve the lives of consumers, impact policy, and inform future research.

Current Research Areas

  1. Evaluating early intensive behavioral intervention outcomes for low-income children and families
  2. Examining strategies to improve play and leisure time interactions with peers
  3. Assessment of immediate environmental factors on acquisition of language and social interaction of children with ASD
  4. Identifying optimal group instructional strategies for early learners with ASD
  5. Assessing the utility and feasibility of a transition program to support children and families following early intensive behavioral intervention
  6. Improving adherence to parent and family training for young children with ASD
  7. Improving staff performance in delivery of behavioral intervention

Conducting Research at ELI

The Early Learning Institute offers a number of unique opportunities for research. These opportunities range anywhere from recruitment of potential research participants to conducting on-site intervention research. All research activities are approved on a case-by-case basis, and those activities can be submitted for consideration by completing and submitting this form. For more information about conducting research at ELI, please contact Dr. Matt Brodhead at 517-355-4737 or


Student & Faculty Publications


  • Abel, E., Kellerman, A., Kim, S. Y., & Brodhead, M. T. (2017). Recommendations for identifying sleep problems and treatment resources for children with autism spectrum disorder. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 10, 261-269. doi: 10.1007/s40617-016-0158-4
  • Bak, M. Y.  S., & Plavnick, J. B., (in press). Vocalizations of minimally verbal children with autism across the school year. Autism.
  • Brodhead, M. T., Abston, G. W., Mates, M., & Abel, E. (2017). Further refinement of video-based brief multiple-stimulus without replacement preference assessments. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 50, 170-175. doi: 10.1002/jaba.358 
  • Brodhead, M. T., Courtney, W., & Thaxton, J. (in press). Using activity schedules to promote varied application use in children with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.
  • Brodhead, M. T., Quigley, S. P., & Cox, D. J. (in press). How to identify ethical practices in organizations prior to employment. Behavior Analysis in Practice.
  • Brodhead, M. T., Kim, S. Y., & Rispoli, M. J. (in press). Further examination of video-based preference assessments without contingent access. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.
  • Guérin, N. A., Rodriguez, K. E., Brodhead, M. T., & O’Haire, M. E. (2017). Assessing animal preferences in children with autism: A new use for video-based preference assessment. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 4:29. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2017.00029
  • Plavnick, J. B., & Ingersoll, B. (2017). Video-based group instruction for adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: A case of intervention development. International Review of Research in Developmental Disabilities, 52C, 109-139. doi: 10.1016/bs.irrdd.2017.07.002
  • Quigley, S., P., Blevins, P., Cox, D., Brodhead, M. T., & Kim, S. Y. (in press). An evaluation of the ethical implications of telehealth research with individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice.
  • Rispoli, M. J., Brodhead, M. T., Wolfe, K., & Gregori, E. (2017). Trial-based functional analysis informs treatment for vocal scripting. Behavior Modification. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0145445517742882
  • Rispoli, M., Zaini, S., Mason, R., Brodhead, M. T., Burke, M. D., & Gregori, E. (2017). A systematic review of teacher self-monitoring on implementation of behavioral procedures. Teaching and Teacher Education, 63, 58-72. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2016.12.007
  • Skibbe, L. E., Thompson, J., & Plavnick, J. B. (2017). Preschoolers’ visual attention during electronic storybook reading as related to different types of textual supports. Early Childhood Education Journal. doi: 10/1007/s10643-017-0876-4
  • Stauch, T., LaLonde, K., Plavnick, J. B., Bak, M. Y., & Gatewood, K. (2017). Intraverbal training strategies for children with autism: The current status of multiple control. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior. doi: 10.1007/s40616-017-0079-5
  • Stauch, T., Plavnick, J. B., Sankar, S., & Bernacki, A. (in press). Teaching social perception to adolescents with autism and intellectual disabilities using video-based group instruction. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.


  • Brodhead, M. T., & Rispoli, M. (2016). Using videos to assess preference for novel stimuli in children with autism. Developmental Neurorehabilitation, 20, 560-564. doi: 10.1080/17518423.2016.1237583
  • Brodhead, M. T., Abel, E., Al-Dubayan, M., Brouwers, L., Abston, G. W., & Rispoli, M. (2016). An evaluation of an electronic pictorial multiple stimulus without replacement preference assessment. Journal of Behavioral Education, 25, 417-430. doi: 10.1007/s10864-016-9254-3
  • Brodhead, M. T., Higbee, T. S., Gerencser, K. S., & Akers, J. S. (2016). The use of a discrimination training procedure to teach mand variability to children with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 49, 34-48. doi: 10.1002/jaba.280
  • Brodhead, M. T., Al-Dubayan, M., Mates, M., Brouwers, L., & Abel, E. (2016). An evaluation of a brief video-based multiple-stimulus without replacement preference assessment. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 9, 160-164. doi: 10.10007/s40617-015-0081-0
  • Fong, E., Catagnus, R., Brodhead, M. T., Quigley, S., & Fields, S. (2016). Developing the cultural awareness skills of behavior analysts. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 9, 84-94. doi: 10.1007/s40617-016-0111-6
  • Plavnick, J. B., & Bak, M. Y. S. (2016). Description of a computer-based reading program for children with autism spectrum disorder. Michigan Reading Journal, 48 (3a), 51-56
  • Plavnick, J. B., Thompson, J. L., Englert, C. S., Mariage, T., & Johnson, K. (2016). Mediating access to Headsprout® Early Reading for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of Behavioral Education, 25, 357-378. doi: 10.1007/s10864-015-9244-x 
  • Plavnick, J. B., & Vitale, F. A. (2016). A comparison of vocal mand training strategies for children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 18, 52-62. doi: 10.1177/1098300714548800


  • Brodhead, M. T. (2015). Maintaining professional relationships in an interdisciplinary setting: Strategies for navigating non-behavioral treatment recommendations for individuals with autism. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 8, 70-78. doi: 10.1007/s40617-015-0042-7 
  • Higbee, T. S., & Brodhead, M. T. (2015). Promoting independence, verbal behavior, and social skills in individuals with autism through activity schedules and script fading. International Journal of Behavior Analysis & Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2, 1-8.
  • Kuo, N. C., & Plavnick, J. B. (2015). Using an antecedent art intervention to improve the behavior of a child with autism. Art Therapy: Journal of American Art Therapy Association, 32, 54-59. doi: 10.1080/07421656.2015.1028312
  • Plavnick, J. B., Kaid, T., & MacFarland, M. C. (2015). Effects of a school-based social skills training program for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45, 2674-2690. doi: 10.1007/s10803-015-2434-5
  • Plavnick, J. B., MacFarland, M. C., & Ferreri, S. J. (2015). Variability in the effectiveness of a video modeling intervention package for children with autism. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 17, 105-115. doi: 10.1177/1098300714548798
  • Plavnick, J. B., Marchand-Martella, N., Martella, R., Thomspon, J., & Wood, L. (2015). A review of explicit and systematic instructional programs for students with autism spectrum disorder. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2, 55-66. doi: 10.1007/s40489-014-0036-3
  • Shivers, C., & Plavnick, J. B. (2015). Sibling involvement in interventions among families of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A systematic review. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45, 685-696. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2222-7
  • Wong, C., Odom, S. L., Hume, K. A., Cox, A. W., Fettig, A., Kucharczyk, S., Brock, M. E., Plavnick, J. B., Fleury, V. P., & Schultz, T. R. (2015). Evidence-based practices for children, youth, and young adults, with autism spectrum disorder: a comprehensive review. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45, 1951-1966. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2351-z 


  • Brodhead, M. T., Higbee, T. S., Pollard, J. S., Akers, J. S., & Gerencser, K. S. (2014). The use of linked activity schedules to teach children with autism to play hide-and-seek. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 47, 645-650. doi: 10.1002/jaba.145
  • Brodhead, M. T., Durán, L., & Bloom, S. E. (2014). Cultural and linguistic diversity in recent language acquisition research on individuals with disabilities: a review and implications for research and practice. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 30, 75-86. doi: 10.1007/s40616-014-0009-8
  • Plavnick, J. B., & Hume, K. A. (2014). Observational learning by individuals with autism: A review of teaching strategies. Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice, 18, 458-466. doi: 10.1177/1362361312474373
  • Plavnick, J. B., Mariage, T., Englert, C. S., Constantine, K., Morin, L., & Skibbe, L. (2014). Promoting independence during computer assisted reading instruction for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Mexican Journal of Behavior Analysis, 40, 85-105.
  • Pollard, J. S., Higbee, T. S., Akers, J. S., & Brodhead, M. T. (2014). An evaluation of an interactive computer training to teach instructors to implement discrete trials with children with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 47, 765-776. doi: 10.1002/jaba.152


  • Plavnick, J. B., & Ferreri, S. J. (2013). Single-case experimental designs in educational research: A methodology for causal analyses in teaching and learning. Educational Psychology Review, 25, 549-569. doi: 10.1007/s10648-013-9230-6
  • Plavnick, J. B., & Normand, M. (2013). Pretreatment functional analysis of verbal behavior: A brief review. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 46, 349-353. doi: 10.1002/jaba.1
  • Plavnick, J. B., Sam, A., Hume, K., & Odom, S. L. (2013). Effects of video-based group instruction on the acquisition of social skills by adolescents with autism. Exceptional Children, 80, 67-83.


  • Brodhead, M. T., & Higbee, T. S. (2012). Teaching and maintaining ethical behavior in a professional organization. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 5, 86-92.
  • Hume, K., Plavnick, J. B., & Odom, S. L. (2012). Effects of an individual work system on independence, task acquisition, and generalization among students with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42, 2084-2099. doi: 10.1007/s10803-012-1457-4
  • Plavnick, J. B. (2012). A practical strategy for teaching a child with autism to attend to and imitate a video model. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities. 37, 1-8.
  • Plavnick, J. B., & Ferreri, S. F. (2012). Collateral effects of mand training for children with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 6, 1366-1376. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2012.05.008
  • Plavnick, J. B., Ferreri, S. F., Mannes, T. J., Maupin, A. N., Stewart, L. S., Goforth, A. N., . . . Oka, E. R. (2012). An experimental comparison of brief behavioral and developmental language training for a young child with autism. Journal of Speech and Language Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis. 5, 35-41.


  • Ferreri, S. F., & Plavnick, J. B. (2011). A functional analysis of gestural prelinguistic behaviors emitted by young children with severe developmental disabilities. The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, 27, 185-190.
  • Plavnick, J. B., & Ferreri, S. F. (2011). Establishing verbal repertoires in young children with autism using function-based video modeling. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44, 747-766. doi: 10.1901/jaba.2011.44-747
  • Steuer, S. M. B., & Brodhead, M. T. (2011). Experimentation in an academic library: a case study in security and individual student engagement. Journal of Library Innovation, 2, 35-44.


  • Plavnick, J. B., Ferreri, S. F., & Maupin, A. N. (2010). The effects of self-monitoring on the procedural integrity of a behavioral intervention for young children with developmental disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 43, 315-320. 4oi: 10.1901/jaba.2010.43-315