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A.J. Schwichtenberg, PhD

Research Interests

Developmental trajectories in early childhood, at risk development, developmental disabilities (e.g., Autism Spectrum Disorders), sleep health, social-emotional development

Biography

In 1995 I met Adam, a young boy with autism, and worked on his home-based intervention team. Teaching Adam was my first experience with autism and his developmental trajectory shaped much of the education, training, and clinical experience I pursued as an undergraduate at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. During the time I worked with Adam and his family, I received a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Communications and developed my skills in the areas of autism treatment, inclusion practices, and family stress and coping. My passion for autism was sparked by Adam and grew with each family I worked with. After graduation, I longed to continue helping families and expand my understanding of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), so I pursued a graduate degree under the mentorship of Dr. Betty Black at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Shortly after my arrival in WI, Dr. Black passed away and unfortunately she was the only faculty member actively working in the area of autism. I was able to complete my Master's thesis, which addressed the roles of intervention intensity in maternal stress and well-being in families raising a child with ASD.

While at the University of Wisconsin, I was fortunate to obtain a position with Dr. Julie Poehlmann at the start of her longitudinal study of self-regulation in children at risk for developmental disabilities. My dissertation was an extension of this study. My dissertation, which was funded by a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F31) from NICHD, was a prospective longitudinal study that followed infants born preterm from hospital discharge to 24 months post-term. This study focused on the dynamic nature of parent-child relations and the development of sleep in this at risk population. Although this project and my dissertation were fulfilling and rewarding experiences, I wanted to work with families raising children with ASD again and sought postdoctoral opportunities to return to ASD research.

I was delighted when I secured a postdoctoral training position at the M.I.N.D. Institute (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders) at the University of California, Davis. The Autism Research Training Program (ARTP) provided a rich curriculum of developmentally-based training in epidemiology, genetics, brain development, neuroimaging, neurophysiology, neurotoxicology, immunology, and the early identification and treatment of ASD. Mentored by Sally Ozonoff, Ph.D., my ARTP research included applying my knowledge of early parent-child relations to children at risk for ASD (infant siblings of children with ASD) within an ongoing prospective longitudinal study. My training at the M.I.N.D. also expanded my knowledge of sleep assessment and my understanding of sleep in ASD.

Building on the wide breadth of training provided at the M.I.N.D. Institute, I received a career transition award from the NIMH (K99/R00) which combined my interests in autism and sleep development. I joined the Purdue team at the start of 2013 and I am continuing my research line in early childhood developmental trajectories.

Selected Publications

  • Schwichtenberg, A. J., & Malow, B. (in press). Melatonin treatment in children with developmental disabilities. In J. Herman & M. Hirshkowitz (Eds.), Sleep Medicine and Psychiatric Illness.

  • Poehlmann, J., Gerstein, E., Burnson, C., Weymouth, L., Bolt, D., Maleck, S., & Schwichtenberg, A. J. (in press). Risk and resilience in preterm children at age 6. Development and Psychopathy
  • Ozonoff, S., Young, G. S., Belding, A., Moore Hill, M., Hill, A., Hutman, T., Johnson, S., Miller, M., Rogers, S., Schwichtenberg, A. J., Steinfeld, M., & Iosif, A. (2014). The broader autism phenotype in infancy: When does it emerge? Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescents Psychiatry, 53(4), 398-407.
  • Burnson, C., Poehlmann, J., & Schwichtenberg, A. J. (2013). Effortful control, positive emotional expression, and behavior problems in children born preterm. Infant Behavior and Development, 36, 564-574.
  • Schwichtenberg, A. J., Shah, P., & Poehlmann, J. (2013). Sleep and attachment in preterm infants. Infant Mental Health, 34(1), 37-46.
  • Schwichtenberg, A. J., Young, G. S., Hutman, T., Iosif, A., Sigman, M., Rogers, S., & Ozonoff, S. (2013). Behavior and sleep problems in children at risk for autism. Autism Research, 6(3), 169-176.
  • Anders, T., Iosif, A., Schwichtenberg, A. J., Tang, K., & Goodlin-Jones, B. (2012). Sleep behavior and daytime functioning: A short-term longitudinal study of three preschool-aged comparison groups. The American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 117(4), 275-290.

  • Poehlmann, J., Schwichtenberg, A. J., Hahn, E., Miller, K., Dilworth-Bart, J., Kaplan, D., & Maleck, S. (2012). Compliance, opposition, and behavior problems in toddlers born preterm or low birthweight. Infant Mental Health, 33(1), 34-44.

  • Anders, T., Iosif, A., Schwichtenberg, A. J., Tang, K., & Goodlin-Jones, B. (2011). Six-month sleep-wake organization and stability in preschool age children with autism. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 9(2), 92-106. PMCID: PMC3283033

  • Poehlmann, J., Schwichtenberg, A. J., Shlafer, R., Hahn, E., & Friberg, B. (2011). Emerging self-regulation in high risk infants: Differential susceptibility to parenting?  Development and Psychopathology, 23(1), 177-193. PMCID: PMC3292432

  • Poehlmann, J., Schwichtenberg, A. J., Bolt, D., Hane, A., Burnson, C., & Winters, J. (2011).  Infant physiological regulation and maternal risks as predictors of dyadic interaction trajectories in families with a preterm infant.  Developmental Psychology, 47(1), 91-105.  PMCID: PMC3285549

  • Schwichtenberg, A. J., Anders, T., Volbrecht, M., & Poehlmann, J. (2011). Daytime sleep and parenting interactions in infants born preterm. Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 32(1), 8-17. PMCID: PMC3072039

  • Schwichtenberg, A. J., Islof, A., Goodlin-Jones, B., Tang, K., & Anders, T. (2011). Daytime sleep patterns in preschool children with autism, developmental delay, and typical development. The American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 116(2), 142-152.

  • Poehlmann, J., Schwichtenberg, A. J., Shah, P., Shlafer, R., Hahn, E., & Maleck, S. (2010). The development of effortful control in children born preterm. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 39(4), 522-536. PMCID: PMC2917753

  • Schwichtenberg, A. J., & Goodlin-Jones, B. (2010). Causes and correlates of frequent nighttime awakenings in early childhood. International Review of Neurobiology, 93, 177-191.

  • Schwichtenberg, A. J., Young, G., Sigman, M., Huntman, T., & Ozonoff, S. (2010). Can family affectedness inform infant sibling outcomes of autism spectrum disorders? Journal of the Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51(9), 1021-1030.

  • Goodlin-Jones, B., Schwichtenberg, A. J., Iosif, A., Tang, K., Liu, J., & Anders, T. (2009). Six-month persistence of sleep problems in young children with autism, developmental delay, and typical development. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 48(8), 847-854.

  • Poehlmann, J., Schwichtenberg, A. J., Dilworth-Bart, J., & Bolt, D. (2009). Predictors of depressive symptom trajectories in mothers of infants born preterm or low birthweight. Journal of Family Psychology, 23(5), 690-704.

  • Schwichtenberg, A. J., & Poehlmann, J. (2009). A transactional model of sleep-wake regulation in infants born preterm or low birthweight. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 34(8), 837-849.

  • Schwichtenberg, A. J., & Poehlmann, J. (2007). Applied behaviour analysis: Does intervention intensity relate to family stressors and maternal well-being?  Journal of Intellectual Disabilities Research, 51(8), 598-605.

Education

  • Postdoctoral Autism Research Training Program, 2010, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, Davis

  • PhD, 2008, Human Development and Family Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison

  • MS, 2004, Human Development and Family Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison

  • BS, 1997, Psychology and Communications, Hamline University