Research Projects

Current Research

The following studies are in progress within our research group. These studies have been joined under the PhD study so that families only participate once, but their input allows multiple investigations to take place. We are so grateful to all these families! We currently have one PhD and two Masters studies taking place, and this data has already contributed to two completed degrees.

Katie Hamilton, Doctoral Candidate, thesis title: “The Biological Bases of Social Deficits: The possible roles of the mu-opioid receptor and the serotonin transporter promoter length polymorphism in social motivation, empathic behaviour, and Theory of Mind in Autism Spectrum Disorder”

Kirsty Carter, Masters Candidate, thesis title: “The Relationship between Childhood Attachment and Parenting Styles and the impact on Social Development in Autism Spectrum Disorder”

Jessica Ringshaw, Masters Candidate, thesis title: “An Exploration of the Relationship between Theory of Mind (ToM) and Moral Decision-Making within the Context of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)”

Completed Research

Doctoral Studies 

Michelle Hoogenhout, thesis title: “Examining Empathy in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Cognitive, Behavioural and Autonomic Responses”  Completed 2016

Masters Studies

Nakeeta Bailey, thesis title: “An Exploration of the Relationships between Attachment Styles, Parenting Styles, and Theory of Mind with Social Deficits in Autism Spectrum Disorder”  Completed 2016.

Katie Hamilton, thesis title: “An Investigation into the Relationships between Autism Spectrum Disorders, Theory of Mind, and the Serotonin Transporter Promoter Length Polymorphism”  Completed 2014.

Michelle Hoogenhout, thesis title: “Theory of Mind Development: Comparing Autism Spectrum Disorder Subgroups in Light of Changing Diagnostic Criteria”  Completed 2011.

Honours Studies

Toni Ross, thesis title: “Do child temperament and parenting style mediate the relationship between social competence and empathic behaviours in children with autism spectrum disorder?”  Completed 2016.

Publications & Presentations

Selected Papers

Hoogenhout, M., & Malcolm-Smith, S. (in press). Theory of mind predicts severity level in autism. Autism.

Smith, L., Malcolm-Smith, S., & De Vires, P. J. (2016).Translation and cultural appropriateness of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2 in Afrikaans. Autism, doi: 10.1177/1362361316648469

Pileggi, L., Malcolm-Smith, S. & Solms, M. (2015). Investigating the role of social-affective attachment processes in cradling bias: The absence of cradling bias in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Laterality, 20, 154-170, doi: 10.1080/1357650X.2014.948449

Hoogenhout, M., & Malcolm-Smith, S. (2014). Theory of mind in autism spectrum disorder: Does DSM classification predict development? Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 8, 597-607.

Malcolm-Smith, S., Hoogenhout, M., Ing, N., Thomas, K. G. F., & De Vries, P. (2013). Autism Spectrum Disorders – Global challenges and local opportunities. Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 25, 1 – 5, doi: 10.2989/17280583.2013.767804.

Hoogenhout, M., van der Straaten, K., Pileggi, L., & Malcolm-Smith, S. (2013). Young children display contagious yawning when looking at the eyes. Journal of Child and Adolescent Behaviour, 1, doi:10.4172/jcalb.1000101

Pileggi, L., Malcolm-Smith, S. Hoogenhout, M., Thomas, K. G. F., & Solms, M. (2013). Cradling bias is absent in children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 25, 55 – 60, doi: 10.2989/17280583.2013.767262.

Khan, N., Gallo, L. A., Arghir, A., Budisteanu, B., Budisteanu, M., Dobrescu, I., Donald, K., El-Tabari, S., Hoogenhout, M…Elsabbagh, M. (2012). Autism and the grand challenges in global mental health, Autism Research, doi: 10.1002/aur.1239.

Thomas, K. G. F., Malcolm-Smith, S., Ball, M., & Robberts, M. (2009). Contributions of cognitive science approaches to cognitive developmental psychology.  In J. Watts, K.  Cockcroft & N. Duncan (Eds.), Developmental Psychology (2nd ed., pp. 436-457). Cape Town: UCT Press.


Recent conference presentations

Hoogenhout, M. & Malcolm-Smith, S. (2014, August). Theory of mind in autism spectrum disorder: Predicting development using DSM-IV and DSM-5 classification. 21st World Congress of IACAPAP, Durban, South Africa.

Hoogenhout, M. & Malcolm-Smith, S. (2014, May). Theory of mind predicts autism severity level in autism [poster presentation]. 4th UK paediatric Neuropsychology Symposium, London, UK.

Hamilton, K., O’Ryan, C., & Malcolm-Smith, S. (2013). An exploration of the relationships between Autism Spectrum Disorder, Theory of Mind, and the Serotonin transporter promoter length polymorphism. Paper presented at the 16th SSBP International Research Symposium, Stellenbosch, South Africa, September 2013.

Pileggi, L., Hoogenhout, M., & Malcolm-Smith, S. (2013) Face, gaze, empathy and emotion tracking in Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Paper presented at the University of Cape Town  – University of Wurzburg Bilateral Seminar, Mont Fleur, Stellenbosch, April 2013.

Malcolm-Smith, S. & Hamilton, K.  (2013) Social chemistries in depression and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Paper presented at the University of Cape Town  – University of Wurzburg Bilateral Seminar, Mont Fleur, Stellenbosch, April 2013.

Seris, N., Hoogenhout, M., & Shabalala, N. (2013). Early intervention for autism in South Africa. Invited presentation, Policlinico G. Martino, Messina, Sicily.

Hulley, M., Murray, S., Malcolm-Smith, S. & O’Ryan, C. (2013). An investigation of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in differential-expressed candidate genes: is there a correlation between SNP’s and ASD phenotypes in South Africans? Poster presented at the 16th SSBP International Research Symposium, Stellenbosch, South Africa, September 2013.


2 Responses to Research Projects

  1. Pingback: IACC announces the goals and key questions for autism research | UCT Autism Research

  2. Dear Sir/Mam
    I would like to be put in contact with someone in connection with further research for my PHD on High functioning Autism (AS). I completed my Masters at CPUT on ‘the impact on sensory processing on the learning and development of two AS Grade R learners’. I also had a journal article published in the ‘South African Journal of Childhood Education/2011(2): 1-16’, at the University of Johannesburg.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s