About FIRST WORDS® Project
First Words ProjectFIRST WORDS® Project is a longitudinal research investigation in the Florida State University Autism Institute in the College of Medicine directed by Dr. Amy Wetherby. Our major goal is to identify early signs of developmental language disorders, autism spectrum disorder, and other communication delays in children from 9 to 24 months of age.

Through our research findings and resources provided on our website, we aim to improve screening tools and early detection of communication problems by maximizing the role of the family and to help families support their child’s development and access intervention services sooner.

FIRST WORDS® Project has received funding from the following agencies or individuals:

  • National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health
  • National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
  • National Institutes of Health,  Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
  • U.S. Department of Eduction, Institute of Education Sciences
  • U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • State of Florida Legislature
  • Jessie Ball duPont Fund, Jacksonville, Florida
  • Phillips Endowment
  • Todd and Annie Trimmer
  • Delta Airlines
The content of this website is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the US Department of Education.

FIRST WORDS® Project Faculty and Staff:


Amy M. Wetherby, PhD, CCC-SLP, Director

Amy M. Wetherby is a Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences, Director of the Autism Institute in the Florida State University College of Medicine, and the Laurel Schendel Professor of Communication Disorders in the Florida State University College of Communication and Information.

Charly Nottke, M.S., Assistant Director

Charly Nottke is the Assistant Director of Early Detection and Prevention Research and lead Clinical Research Diagnostician for the First Words Project in the Autism Institute at the Florida State University College of Medicine.

Renee Daly Holland, M.S., CCC-SLP, Assistant Director

Renee Daly Holland is the Assistant Director of Early Intervention Services Research and the lead Intervention Coordinator for the Early Social Interaction Project in the Autism Institute at the Florida State University College of Medicine.


Laura Rosenthal, Project Coordinator

  • Kaitlin Alfermann, MS, CCC-SLP, Speech Language Pathologist
  • Therese Kemper, PhD, Clinical Psychologist and Diagnostic Coordinator
  • Joy Moore, MS, CCC-SLP Clinical Research Diagnostician
  • Amy Cade, MSW, Clinical Research Diagnostician
  • Alicia Nohle, LCSW, Clinical Research Diagnostician
  • Vickie Peace, BS, Early Childhood Specialist
  • Kristen Seaquist, MS, CCC-SLP Speech Language Pathologist

Current and Former Doctoral Students

  • Taylor Day, 2014-current
  • Abigail Delehanty, MA, CCC-SLP 2014-current
  • Deanna Dow, MS, 2011-current
  • Whitney Guthrie MS, 2010-current
  • Vanessa Reinhardt MS, 2009-current
  • Janine Bartley, PhD, Graduated December, 2013
  • Nicole Sparapani, PhD, Graduated December, 2013
  • Sheri Stronach, PhD, Graduated August, 2013
  • David McCoy, PhD, Graduated August, 2013
  • Laurie Swineford,PhD, Graduated December, 2011
  • Lorraine A. Book, PhD, CCC-SLP, Graduated 2009
  • Allison Plumb,PhD, Graduated December, 2008
  • Angie Barber, PhD, Graduated August, 2008
  • Stacy Shumway, PhD, Graduated August, 2006
  • Nola Watt, PhD Graduated April, 2006
  • Julie Cleary, PhD Graduated April, 2002

How you can help.
You can help support the FIRST WORDS Project.

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