The Center for Autism Research Excellence (CARE) at Boston University is home to one of the world’s first research studies focusing on signing deaf children on the autism spectrum. This research aims to understand how autism affects sign language development in children exposed to a sign language from birth. We hope that our study will lead to better treatment options for deaf children as well as a better understanding of how autism affects learning in both deaf and hearing children.

This research is funded by a three-year postdoctoral grant to Dr. Aaron Shield from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one of the National Institutes of Health, and a research enhancement grant from the Autism Science Foundation.


  • Publications describing the findings of the Deaf Autism Research Project are starting to come out. Recent publications include:
  1. Shield, A., Meier, R.P., & Tager-Flusberg, H. (2015). The use of sign language pronouns by native-signing children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
  2. Shield, A. (2014). Preliminary findings of similarities and differences in the speech and sign language of children with autism. Seminars in Speech and Language, 35, 309-320.
  3. Mood, D., & Shield, A. (2014). Clinical use of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-Second Edition with children who are deaf. Seminars in Speech and Language, 35, 288-300.
  4. Szarkowski, A., Mood, D., Shield, A., Wiley, S., & Yoshinaga-Itano, C. (2014). A summary of current understanding regarding children with autism spectrum disorder who are deaf or hard of hearing. Seminars in Speech and Language, 35, 241-259.

Why is research on autism in deaf children important?

Learn more about the Principal Investigator, Dr. Aaron Shield

Learn more about the Director of the ROADD Center, Dr. Helen Tager-Flusberg