Research firmly supports all of our products, from the assessment and intervention programs that are our foundation, to our online support tools for program implementation and game-based assessment and tutoring systems. Our goal is to develop effective programs that are used in the real world to make a difference in people’s lives.

Research, Development, Testing

Informed by current research and best practices, our R&D process ensures our products are effective, usable, engaging, and easy to implement, and that they include helpful built-in support for putting programs into practice in several areas:


Our research has shown that the special social and emotional needs of individuals on the autism spectrum can be addressed, with interventions and game-based tools, to improve social functioning and increase confidence.


Our game-based platforms are thoroughly researched and tested, to provide engaging social learning experiences for users, and efficient, powerful, web-based implementation centers for data collection and tracking.


All of our implementation support and web-based training tools have been created through research and testing with program administrators based in schools, clinics and elsewhere.


3C Institute’s interventions reflect years of research on children’s peer relationships as well as clinical experience working with children and families.

Research Services

3C Institute researchers work closely with small businesses and nonprofits to successfully navigate the research process, from securing funding to designing your study to presenting your findings.

Find Funding

We can identify grant sources or fully prepare and submit your application. Cost sharing for grant writing is available for joint submissions.

Secure IRB Approval

We will prepare and submit your Institutional Review Board (IRB) application and help you stay compliant throughout your study.

Design Your Study

Our researchers will help you decide which questions to answer and how, including survey selection, recruitment, and data collection.

Communicate Results

We can collect, manage, and analyze your data and prepare a summary report of findings to present to your target audience.

Would you like help with your research?

Learn more about our consultation, analysis, and reporting services, or get the details on our fully customizable Package Options.


Chief of Research and Learning Content


Dr. Childress obtained her PhD in psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to coming to 3C Institute, she served as a research associate and a postdoctoral fellow in the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill working on a longitudinal imaging study aimed at identifying the early markers of autism through behavioral and imaging methodologies. She has 19 years of autism research experience, during which she has examined the behavioral, personality, and cognitive characteristics of individuals with autism and their family members. Dr. Childress also has experience developing behavioral and parent report measurement tools, coordinating multi-site research studies, and collecting data from children and families. She has taught courses and seminars in general child development, autism, and cognitive development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


  • autism
  • early development
  • behavioral measurement
  • integrating behavioral and biological measurement


  • Postdoctoral fellowship, Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (Institutional NRSA-NICHD), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • PhD, developmental psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • BS, psychology (minor in sociology), University of Iowa

Selected Publications

  • Elison, J. T., Wolff, J. J., Heimer, D. C., Paterson, S. J., Gu, H., Hazlett, H. C., Styner, M, Gerig, G., & Piven, J. (in press). Frontolimbic neural circuitry at 6 months predicts individual differences in joint attention at 9 months. Developmental Science.
  • Wassink, T. H., Vieland, V. J., Sheffield, V. C., Bartlett, C. W., Goedken, R., Childress, D. & Piven, J. (2008). Posterior probability of linkage analysis of autism dataset identifies linkage to chromosome 16. Psychiatric Genetics,18(2),85-91.
  • Losh, M., Childress, D., Lam K. & Piven, J. (2008). Defining key features of the broad autism phenotype: A comparison across parents of multiple- and single-incidence autism families. American Journal of Medical Genetics (Neuropsychiatric Genetics), 147B(4):424-33.
  • Wassink, T. H., Piven, J., Vieland, V. J., Jenkins, L., Frantz R., Bartlett, C. W., Goedken, R., … Sheffield, V.C. (2005). Evaluation of the chromosome 2q37.3 gene CENTG2 as an autism susceptibility gene. American Journal of Medical Genetics (Neuropsychiatric Genetics), 136, 36-44.
  • Barrett, S., Beck, J., Bernier, R., Bisson, E., Braun, T., Casavant, T., Childress, D., … Vieland, V. (1999). An autosomal genomic screen for autism. American Journal of Medical Genetics (Neuropsychiatric Genetics), 88, 609-615. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1096-8628(19991215)88:63.0.CO;2-L
  • Piven, J., Palmer, P., Landa, R., Santangelo, S., Jacobi, D. & Childress, D. (1997). Personality and language characteristics in parents from multiple-incidence autism families. American Journal of Medical Genetics (Neuropsychiatric Genetics), 74, 398-411.
  • Piven, J., Palmer, P., Jacobi, D., Childress, D. & Arndt, S. (1997). Broader autism phenotype: Evidence from a family history study of multiple-incidence autism families. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154, 185-190.