Rebecca Landa, PhD, CCC-SLP, is the founder and director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) and the REACH research program at Kennedy Krieger Institute. She is also a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Dr. Landa obtained her master's degree at the Pennsylvania State University and her doctorate at the University of Washington. She completed post-doctoral training in psychiatric genetics at Johns Hopkins. She is the recipient of the NIMH Shannon Award for excellent and innovative research, as well as the Rita Rudel Prize for Developmental Neuropsychology. Dr. Landa is also the recipient of the 2009 Alumni Recognition Award from the College of Human Health and Development of the Pennsylvania State University.
Dr. Landa received the Speaker’s Medallion Award, Maryland State House 2014. She was awarded the 2015 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award from the University of Washington Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, and was the 2016 David E. Yoder Symposium Awardee, University of North Carolina. In summer 2017, Dr. Landa was named to Parents Magazine Board of Advisors, contributing and weighing in on mental health topics.
Dr. Landa is a speech-language pathologist. She has practiced in the public schools, university clinics and hospital settings. Dr. Landa has consulted with schools and families on an international level to establish state-of-the-science educational programming for children with autism spectrum disorders.
Current statistics predict one out of every 68 children will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism is a neurodevelopmental disability that typically appears within the first three years of life. Individuals with ASD exhibit developmental delays in social and communication development, often have atypical responses to sensations, repetitive behaviors, and intense and/or atypical interests. ASD is about four times more likely in boys than girls, and sometimes occurs in association with other disorders. Though the cause of autism is unknown and cannot be "cured," structured educational programs geared to the child's developmental level and interests can improve outcomes and support improved quality of life.
Dr. Landa directs the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) at Kennedy Krieger Institute, which offers a uniquely interdisciplinary and comprehensive approach to serving children with ASD and their families. The center combines educational, behavioral, clinical, diagnostic, out-patient and outreach programs to create treatment that is tailored to the particular needs of individual children and their families.
Dr. Landa's research has focused on neuropsychological, learning and communication processes in autism across the lifespan. Her research, clinical, and community-based work for over the past 15 years has focused on identifying the earliest markers and developmental trajectories associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and communication disorders, and translating that knowledge into scalable interventions that can be feasibly implemented in community settings where the greatest impact can be made.
Prior to 2005, researchers, parents, and clinicians relied solely on retrospective studies or case reports to understand the earliest indicators of ASD. Dr. Landa was part of the original research group that determined that ASD was heritable. That same group discovered that there was continuum of ASD characteristics, and that family members of individuals with ASD may exhibit a set of behavioral and information processing characteristics that are similar to those of ASD but much milder. This has been referred to as a ‘broader autism phenotype’. To advance the field’s understanding of the earliest signs of ASD, and how infants with ASD learn (so that more effective treatments could e developed), Dr. Landa pioneered a new research design, involving the study of infant siblings of children with autism and following these infants into their teen years. This prospective longitudinal research approach is known as the ‘high risk siblings’ design. Dr. Landa’s research showed that about 20% of younger siblings of a child with ASD will also have ASD (replicated by the Baby Siblings Resarch Consortium – Ozonoff et al., 2011). Her work showed that motor differences by age 6 months are predictive of ASD and communication delays and that there is a prodromal period for ASD. She also showed that there are different patterns of ASD onset and multiple developmental trajectory patterns in high risk sibs. Out of what she learned in her research with infants at heightened risk for ASD, Dr. Landa developed a brief tutorial of early ASD indicators (see youtube ‘Bringing the Early Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders into Focus’; Spanish versions also available). Another product from her infant research is the Early Video-guided Autism risk Screener (EVAS), designed to detect autism risk in children from 12 to 60 months of age.
In her research related to interventions, Dr. Landa developed an intervention for toddlers with ASD that showed efficacy in a randomized controlled trial. Through funding from the Institute of Educational Sciences, this treatment, Early Achievements, was translated into an intervention for ASD and other social and communication disorders that can be feasibly implemented by teachers in public preschool settings. A large randomized controlled trial of that intervention is being conducted in public schools in four states to more fully evaluate its efficacy. She also has developed an intervention for infants at high risk for social and communication delays, including autism. In addition to her preschool-based implementation science research, Dr. Landa has adapted the Early Achievements intervention for implementation in child care settings serving two- and three-year-olds, where one or more of the children demonstrates communication and social delays.
To advance the detection of social communication impairments, Dr. Landa developed the Pragmatic Rating Scale. This tool, for ages 4 years through adulthood, has been translated into many language and is used around the world.
Dr. Landa has led numerous multi-site research projects. She was the principal investigator of an NIH STARRT Center of Excellence. She is a member of the Baby Sibs Research Consortium and of the Toddler Treatment Network. Dr. Landa is a co-principal investigator for two studies funded by the Centers for Disease Control (SEED and ADDM) and NIMH (EARLI). She has multiple research collaborative studies that involve leading scientists within the United States and abroad. Dr. Landa was selected as an International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) Fellow for 2021.
- Children, Ages 4-8 Years, With an Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Children, Ages 8-14, With Autism Spectrum Disorder and Anxiety
- Children, Ages 12-60 Months, With and Without Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Infants, 3-6 Months, with a Family History of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or with No Family History of ASD, or with a Preterm Birth but No Family History of ASD
- Childcare Providers serving 2- and 3-year-olds with Social and/or Communication Delays or Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Teachers of Preschoolers with ASD in Public Schools
Harrop C, Tu N, Landa R, Kasier A, Kasari C (2018). Sensory Behaviors in Minimally Verbal Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: How and When Do Caregivers Respond? Am J Intellect Dev Disabil. 123(1), 1-16.
Sturner R, Howard B, Bergmann P, Morrel T, Andon L, Marks D, Rao P, Landa R (2016). Autism Screening With Online Decision Support by Primary Care Pediatricians Aided by M-CHAT/F. Pediatrics. 138(3), .
Newschaffer CJ, Schriver E, Berrigan L, Landa R, Stone WL, Bishop S, Burkom D, Golden A, Ibanez L, Kuo A, Lakes KD, Messinger DS, Paterson S, Warren ZE (2016). Development and validation of a streamlined autism case confirmation approach for use in epidemiologic risk factor research in prospective cohorts. Autism Res. , .
Charman T, Young GS, Brian J, Carter A, Carver LJ, Chawarska K, Curtin S, Dobkins K, Elsabbagh M, Georgiades S, Hertz-Picciotto I, Hutman T, Iverson JM, Jones EJ, Landa R, Macari S, Messinger DS, Nelson CA, Ozonoff S, Saulnier C, Stone WL, Tager-Flusberg H, Webb SJ, Yirmiya N, Zwaigenbaum L (2016). Non-ASD outcomes at 36 months in siblings at familial risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD): A baby siblings research consortium (BSRC) study. Autism Res. , .
Almirall D, DiStefano C, Chang YC, Shire S, Kaiser A, Lu X, Nahum-Shani I, Landa R, Mathy P, Kasari C (2016). Longitudinal Effects of Adaptive Interventions With a Speech-Generating Device in Minimally Verbal Children With ASD. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 45(4), 442-56.
Li M, Fallin MD, Riley A, Landa R, Walker SO, Silverstein M, Caruso D, Pearson C, Kiang S, Dahm JL, Hong X, Wang G, Wang MC, Zuckerman B, Wang X (2016). The Association of Maternal Obesity and Diabetes With Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities.Pediatrics. 137(2), e20152206.
Kasari C, Dean M, Kretzmann M, Shih W, Orlich F, Whitney R, Landa R, Lord C, King B (2016). Children with autism spectrum disorder and social skills groups at school: a randomized trial comparing intervention approach and peer composition. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 57(2), 171-9.
DiStefano C, Shih W, Kaiser A, Landa R, Kasari C (2016). Communication growth in minimally verbal children with ASD: The importance of interaction. Autism Res. , .
Messinger DS, Young GS, Webb SJ, Ozonoff S, Bryson SE, Carter A, Carver L, Charman T, Chawarska K, Curtin S, Dobkins K, Hertz-Picciotto I, Hutman T, Iverson JM, Landa R, Nelson CA, Stone WL, Tager-Flusberg H, Zwaigenbaum L (2016). Commentary: sex difference differences? A reply to Constantino. Mol Autism. 7, 31.
Landa RJ, Haworth JL, Nebel MB (2016). Ready, Set, Go! Low Anticipatory Response during a Dyadic Task in Infants at High Familial Risk for Autism. Front Psychol. 7, 721.
Ozonoff S, Young GS, Landa RJ, Brian J, Bryson S, Charman T, Chawarska K, Macari SL, Messinger D, Stone WL, Zwaigenbaum L, Iosif AM (2015). Diagnostic stability in young children at risk for autism spectrum disorder: a baby siblings research consortium study. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 56(9), 988-98.
Shire SY, Goods K, Shih W, Distefano C, Kaiser A, Wright C, Mathy P, Landa R, Kasari C(2015). Parents' Adoption of Social Communication Intervention Strategies: Families Including Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Who are Minimally Verbal. J Autism Dev Disord. 45(6), 1712-24.
Chawarska K, Shic F, Macari S, Campbell DJ, Brian J, Landa R, Hutman T, Nelson CA, Ozonoff S, Tager-Flusberg H, Young GS, Zwaigenbaum L, Cohen IL, Charman T, Messinger DS, Klin A, Johnson S, Bryson S (2014). 18-month predictors of later outcomes in younger siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder: a baby siblings research consortium study. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 53(12), 1317-1327.e1.
Libertus K, Sheperd KA, Ross SW, Landa RJ (2014). Limited fine motor and grasping skills in 6-month-old infants at high risk for autism. Child Dev. 85(6), 2218-31.
Dean M, Kasari C, Shih W, Frankel F, Whitney R, Landa R, Lord C, Orlich F, King B, Harwood R (2014). The peer relationships of girls with ASD at school: comparison to boys and girls with and without ASD. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 55(11), 1218-25.
Zwaigenbaum L, Young GS, Stone WL, Dobkins K, Ozonoff S, Brian J, Bryson SE, Carver LJ, Hutman T, Iverson JM, Landa RJ, Messinger D (2014). Early head growth in infants at risk of autism: a baby siblings research consortium study. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 53(10), 1053-62.
Kasari C, Lawton K, Shih W, Barker TV, Landa R, Lord C, Orlich F, King B, Wetherby A, Senturk D (2014). Caregiver-mediated intervention for low-resourced preschoolers with autism: an RCT. Pediatrics. 134(1), e72-9.
Kasari C, Kaiser A, Goods K, Nietfeld J, Mathy P, Landa R, Murphy S, Almirall D (2014). Communication interventions for minimally verbal children with autism: a sequential multiple assignment randomized trial. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 53(6), 635-46.
Rao PA, Landa RJ (2014). Association between severity of behavioral phenotype and comorbid attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorders. Autism. 18(3), 272-80.
Libertus K, Landa RJ (2014). Scaffolded reaching experiences encourage grasping activity in infants at high risk for autism. Front Psychol. 5, 1071.
Landa RJ, Gross AL, Stuart EA, Faherty A (2013). Developmental trajectories in children with and without autism spectrum disorders: the first 3 years. Child Dev. 84(2), 429-42.
Messinger D, Young GS, Ozonoff S, Dobkins K, Carter A, Zwaigenbaum L, Landa RJ, Charman T, Stone WL, Constantino JN, Hutman T, Carver LJ, Bryson S, Iverson JM, Strauss MS, Rogers SJ, Sigman M (2013). Beyond autism: a baby siblings research consortium study of high-risk children at three years of age. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 52(3), 300-308.e1.
Bhat AN, Galloway JC, Landa RJ (2012). Relation between early motor delay and later communication delay in infants at risk for autism. Infant Behav Dev. 35(4), 838-46.
Kalb LG, Freedman B, Foster C, Menon D, Landa R, Kishfy L, Law P (2012). Determinants of appointment absenteeism at an outpatient pediatric autism clinic. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 33(9), 685-97.
Landa RJ, Kalb LG (2012). Long-term outcomes of toddlers with autism spectrum disorders exposed to short-term intervention. Pediatrics. 130 Suppl 2, S186-90.
Schendel DE, Diguiseppi C, Croen LA, Fallin MD, Reed PL, Schieve LA, Wiggins LD, Daniels J, Grether J, Levy SE, Miller L, Newschaffer C, Pinto-Martin J, Robinson C, Windham GC, Alexander A, Aylsworth AS, Bernal P, Bonner JD, Blaskey L, Bradley C, Collins J, Ferretti CJ, Farzadegan H, Giarelli E, Harvey M, Hepburn S, Herr M, Kaparich K, Landa R, Lee LC, Levenseller B, Meyerer S, Rahbar MH, Ratchford A, Reynolds A, Rosenberg S, Rusyniak J, Shapira SK, Smith K, Souders M, Thompson PA, Young L, Yeargin-Allsopp M (2012). The Study to Explore Early Development (SEED): a multisite epidemiologic study of autism by the Centers for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology (CADDRE) network. J Autism Dev Disord. 42(10), 2121-40.
Landa RJ, Gross AL, Stuart EA, Bauman M (2012). Latent class analysis of early developmental trajectory in baby siblings of children with autism. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 53(9), 986-96.
Tek S, Landa RJ (2012). Differences in autism symptoms between minority and non-minority toddlers. J Autism Dev Disord. 42(9), 1967-73.
Flanagan JE, Landa R, Bhat A, Bauman M (2012). Head lag in infants at risk for autism: a preliminary study. Am J Occup Ther. 66(5), 577-85.
Newschaffer CJ, Croen LA, Fallin MD, Hertz-Picciotto I, Nguyen DV, Lee NL, Berry CA, Farzadegan H, Hess HN, Landa RJ, Levy SE, Massolo ML, Meyerer SC, Mohammed SM, Oliver MC, Ozonoff S, Pandey J, Schroeder A, Shedd-Wise KM (2012). Infant siblings and the investigation of autism risk factors. J Neurodev Disord. 4(1), 7.
Hess CR, Landa RJ (2012). Predictive and concurrent validity of parent concern about young children at risk for autism. J Autism Dev Disord. 42(4), 575-84.
Essock EA, Enoch JM, Williams RA, Barricks M, Raphael S (1985). Joint application of hyperacuity perimetry and gap tests to assess visual function behind cataracts: initial trials. Doc Ophthalmol. 60(3), 293-312.
Siller, M., Morgan, L., Turner-Brown, L., Baggett, K., Baranek, G., Brian, J., Bryson, S., Carter, A., Crais, E., Estesh, A., Kasarii, C., Landa, R., Lord, C., Messinger, D., Mundy, P., Odomc, S. Reznick, S., Roberts, W., Rogers, S., Schertzo, H., Smith, I., Stone, W., Watson, L., Wetherby, A., Yoder, P., & Zwaigenbaum, L. (2014). Interventions for Toddlers with ASD: Designing Studies to Evaluate Parent-Mediated Interventions for Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Early Intervention, 35(4): 355-377.
21. Einspieler, C., Sigafoos, J., Bartl-Pokorny, K., Landa, R., Marschik, P., Bolte, S. (2014). Highlighting the first 5 months of life: General movements in infants later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or Rett syndrome. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 8(3):286–291