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Not all babies are in the same boat

Alex Hendry with two childrenDr Alex Hendry, Scott Family Junior Research Fellow, has published two papers since the start of 2022, analysing executive function and self-control in early childhood.

The first paper examines inhibitory control and problem solving in early childhood, looking at the burdens and benefits of high self‐control. The second is titled “Not all babies are in the same boat” and explores the effects of socioeconomic status, parental attitudes, and activities during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic on early executive functions. Alex is also leading efforts to distribute activity packs to families with children aged three years and under throughout disadvantaged areas of Oxford.

Her research focuses on developing ways to identify and help children most likely to struggle with executive functions – the thinking and regulation skills that help us to plan, solve problems and control our impulses. She leads the START (Supporting Toddlers with a family history of autism/ADHD to develop strong Attention, Regulation and Thinking skills) early intervention programme. She also collaborates on the Oxford Early Executive Functions project, a longitudinal study of attention and executive function development from 10 months to preschool age — and the Social Distancing and Development Study, which aims to understand the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns on early language and cognitive development.

In January 2018, she joined the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford to work on a project investigating executive functions from infancy into early childhood, led by Dr Karla Holmboe. The project is developing new games and tasks to measure executive functions in infants as young as 10 months. In 2021, she was awarded an Advanced Fellowship from the NIHR to develop and pilot the START early intervention programme. The aim of the START programme is to support all children to thrive, whether they are neurodivergent (i.e. autistic/ADHD) or neurotypical (have no developmental conditions).

You can follow Alex’s work on Twitter.

Published: 22 February 2022

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