News Updates

Read more about the latest news from Dr. Jessica Klusek and the South Carolina Family Experiences Study

Study finds subtle pragmatic language features may be a risk factor that contributes to reduced health and well-being in mothers of children with FXS and ASD.

Check out Dr. Klusek’s recent publication which found that pragmatic language was associated with loneliness in mothers of children with ASD and decreased life satisfaction, depression, and poorer family relationships in mothers of children with FXS. This study informs tailored support services to meet the unique needs of families of children with ASD or FXS.

Fragile X Awareness Day 2021 – This week!

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has declared Thursday, July 22, 2021 as Fragile X Awareness Day to raise awareness about the disorder and encourage continued research.

Going Virtual!

Going Virtual

In response to COVID-19, our team has been working hard to redesign the way we do studies to maximize safety. Assessments will now be conducted virtually across two short sessions. Participants can schedule the sessions at a time that is convenient for them, and participate in research from the comfort of their own homes! We are very excited to resume our studies and continue our contributions to fragile X and autism research! Thank you for your support!

To schedule your virtual session or request additional information about our ongoing studies, contact us at

Dr. Jessica Klusek wins NIH award

Jessica Klusek wins NIH award

Dr. Jessica Klusek has been awarded $149,000 from the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. She will use the two-year grant to examine aging language trajectories for women who are carriers of the FMR1 premutation.

Communication Sciences and Disorders Department cuts ribbon on new space

Communication Sciences and Disorders Department cuts ribbon on new space

Our department hosted a grand opening to celebrate our move into a beautiful new space. COMD's new home in the Close-Hipp building allows the entire department, including students, faculty, administration, and researchers to collaborate and work alongside one another in a centralized location. The move has provided our research lab with a brand new work space, waiting areas for research participants, and research testing rooms. We can’t wait to use these new facilities to make our participants feel even more at home when they come to see us!

Fragile X Awareness Day

Fragile X Awareness Day

Dr. Klusek, along with Dr. Jane Roberts and other stakeholders and advocates, gathered in the South Carolina state capitol to share their individual experiences with fragile X syndrome in honor of July 22, 2018 being proclaimed Fragile X Awareness Day.  This governor’s proclamation of the inaugural South Carolina Fragile X Awareness Day was an important step in raising awareness for fragile X syndrome in South Carolina! 

New Fragile X Study

New Fragile X Study

A new fragile X study has been funded! Dr. Jessica Klusek’s lab at the University of South Carolina will take part in a multi-site study funded by the National Institutes of HealthA $3.1 million research grant has been awarded from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. The study is led by Dr. Len Abbeduto of the MIND institute at University of California Davis, with sites at Vanderbilt University led by Dr. Julie Lounds Taylor and University of South Carolina led by Dr. Jessica Klusek. The focus of this longitudinal study is to understand the interaction between language and capacity for independent functioning during the transition into adulthood in individuals with fragile X syndrome.  Dr. Klusek is currently recruiting individuals with fragile X syndrome who are in their final year of high school. Recruitment is nationwide, with travel expenses paid by the grant. For more information, please contact Dr. Klusek’s lab

Lyndsay Schmitt featured

lyndsay schmitt featured

Lyndsay Schmitt, a graduate assistant in our lab, was chosen to be featured as a "I Am Public Health" highlight for the Arnold School of Public Health. Lyndsay is pursuing masters-level training in speech-language pathology. Congratulations on your accomplishments, Lyndsay!

Sydney Burrell awarded Magellan Grant

Sydney Burrell awarded Magellan Grant

Sydney Burrell was awarded a Magellan Scholars Research Grant.  The title of her project is: "Mother-Child Synchrony as a Predictor of Problem Behavior and Autism-Related Deficits in Individuals with Fragile X Syndrome."  In this project, she will investigate if mother-child interaction can predict social outcomes, problem behaviors, and autism symptoms at a one-year follow up. Congratulations, Sydney!

Ella Ahrens Received First Place

Ella Ahrens Received First Place
Ella Ahrens received first place in Health Sciences at Discover USC! Her poster, Propositional Density as an Indicator of Premature Language Decline in Women with the FMR1 Premutation, represented the culmination of her Magellan Scholars Undergraduate Research Project. Way to go, Ella!

Postdoctoral Fellowship Position

Postdoctoral Fellowship Position
POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP IN AUTISM AND FRAGILE X ASSOCIATED CONDITIONS The lab of Dr. Jessica Klusek is pleased to announce the availability of one full-time NIH-funded postdoctoral fellowship position. This is a two-year position, with the option to extend to three years. The focus of this position is on language, literacy, and adult outcomes in fragile X syndrome. The fellow will also have the opportunity to participate in a variety of ongoing projects in the lab, which focus broadly on language and communication phenotypes in autism, the broad autism phenotype, and the FMR1 permutation. Dr. Klusek conducts research on psychiatric, physiological, and genetic correlates of communication ability across these neurodevelopment conditions. The fellow will receive hands-on experience conducting clinical studies of individuals with neurodevelopment disorders and their families. Autism diagnostic training will be offered (ADOS-2 research reliability). The fellow will also have the opportunity to participate in specialized training in the use and interpretation of physiological (i.e., heart activity) data in NDD research and in pragmatic language assessment. The fellow will be expected to both advance ongoing projects and to collaborate with Dr. Klusek and other lab members to develop new studies. There will be a significant emphasis on manuscript preparation, as well as professional development such as running an independent lab, mentoring students, and grant writing. The fellow will be encouraged to submit their own application for external funding to a major federal agency or private foundation (e.g., NIH, Autism Speaks). Dr. Klusek’s research is interdisciplinary and this opportunity is appropriate for applicants with backgrounds in psychology, speech-language pathology, health and human development, or other related disciplines. The start date is flexible, beginning fall 2018 or spring 2019. Interested candidates are invited to e-mail a CV and statement of interest to: Jessica Klusek, Ph.D., CCC-SLP Assistant Professor Dept. Communication Sciences and Disorders Arnold School of Public Health University of South Carolina

New study on literacy published

Check out our newest study on literacy development in children with fragile X syndrome!! Published in the American Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, research the published is called 'Reading in children with fragile X syndrome: Phonological awareness and feasibility of intervention'.

Rainey Hughes’ Paper Accepted for Publication!

Rainey Hughes
Rainey Hughes, a former undergraduate research assistant with the lab, has had a paper accepted for publication in Caravel, USC’s journal for undergraduate research! Rainey’s paper, Communicative Gestures in Infants with Fragile X Syndrome, presents the results of her Magellan Scholars undergraduate research project focused on gesture skills in 12-month old infants with fragile X syndrome. Rainey is currently pursuing a PhD in School Psychology at the University of Houston. Congratulations, Rainey! We are so proud of your accomplishments!

Alexis Graduates with Honors!

Alexis Ruber
Alexis Ruber, our long-time research assistant, has graduated with honors from the South Carolina Honors College! Alexis completed a senior honors thesis chaired by Dr. Jessica Klusek, entitled “Reduced Eye Contact and Anxiety in Women with the FMR1 Premutation". Her research with the lab was funded by a University of South Carolina Science Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) and a Magellan Scholar Award. Alexis will begin dental school at the Medical University of South Carolina in the fall, where she will pursue training in pediatric dentistry with a focus on dentistry for children with special needs. Congratulations, Alexis! We wish you the best!