Jennifer Frey

Jennifer Frey
Assistant Professor, Special Education & Disability Studies
(202) 994-9061

Jennifer R. Frey, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Assistant Professor and Board Certified Behavior Analyst, coordinates the Early Childhood Special Education Graduate Program in the Department of Special Education and Disability Studies and directs the Early Childhood Research Program in the GW Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute (ANDI).

Dr. Frey received her doctorate in education and human development with a major in special education and specializations in educational psychology and applied behavior analysis from Vanderbilt University. While a doctoral student, Dr. Frey was a Dunn Family Scholar of Educational and Psychological Assessment, and she received the Melvyn I. Semmel Dissertation Research Award. Dr. Frey also earned a Master of Education in early childhood special education and a Bachelor of Science, summa cumlaude, in cognitive studies and child development from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Frey’s research focuses on early language acquisition and partner-mediated approaches to early social communication interventions. She works with parents, teachers, and children across home, school, and clinic settings to examine the effects of naturalistic strategies used to support and enhance language and social behavioral development of young children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders, young children at risk for poor language and social emotional outcomes due to factors associated with cleft palate, and children at risk for learning challenges due to povertyrelated risk factors. Dr. Frey is a member of the national Bridging the Word Gap Research Network: Work Group #1 (Interventions Designed for Parents) funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and serves as a mentor to a Bridging the Word Gap Emerging Research Scholar. She also collaborates with GW ANDI Faculty on research investigating social learning, novel biomarkers of language development, and neural mechanisms that predict the success of social communication interventions for young children with autism. Her work has been published in leading journals and handbooks in the fields of special education, speech-language pathology, and school psychology.

Dr. Frey, a recent nominee for the GW Bender Teaching Award, also advises graduate students and teaches courses related to assessment of young children with special needs, language development and intervention, behavior management, research and trends in special education, and quantitative research methods. She is the principal investigator of the Voyages master’s and graduate certificate in autism spectrum disorders personnel preparation grant and the LEEAD leadership grant, both funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs, and also serves as Center Associate in the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Ph.D., Vanderbilt University
M.Ed., Vanderbilt University
B.S., Vanderbilt University


Frey, J. R., & Gillispie, C. M. (in press). The accessibility needs of students with disabilities. In S. N. Elliott, R. J. Kettler, P. A. Beddow, & A. Kurz (Eds.), Handbook of accessible instruction and testing practices: Issues, innovations, and applications. New York: Springer.

Berry, K. A., Anderson, A., & Frey, J. R. (2017). The use of tableau to increase the ontask behavior of students with language-based learning disabilities in inclusive language arts settings. In J. Burnette (Ed.), VSA intersections: Arts and Special Education – Exemplary programs and approaches professional paper series, (Vol. 3, pp. 134-153). Washington, DC: John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Kaiser, A. P., Scherer, N. J., Frey, J. R., & Roberts, M. Y. (2017). The effects of EMT+PE on the speech and language skills of young children with cleft palate: A pilot study. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. doi: 10.1044/16-0008

Scherer, N. J., Baker, S. L., Kaiser, A. P., & Frey, J. R. (2016). Longitudinal comparison of the speech and language performance of US-born and internationally adopted toddlers with cleft lip and palate. The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal. Advanced online publication. doi: 10.1597/15-237.

Elliott, S. N., Frey, J. R., & Davies, M. (2015). Systems for assessing and improving students’ social-emotional skills and academic competence. In J. Dulak, C. E. Domoitrovich, R. P. Weissberg, & T. P. Gullotta (Eds.), Handbook of social and emotional learning: Research and practice, (pp. 301- 319). New York: Guilford Press.

Parlakian, R., & Frey, J. R. (2014). Creating supportive caregiving environments for dual language learning infants and toddlers. In M. Dombrink-Green, H. Bohart, & K. Nemeth (Eds.), Spotlight on young children: Supporting dual language learners, (pp. 5-12). Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Frey, J. R., Elliott, S. N., & Kaiser, A. P. (2014). Social skills intervention planning for preschoolers: Using the SSiS-Rating Scales to identify target behaviors valued by parents and teachers. Assessment for Effective Intervention, 39, 182-193. doi: 10.1177/1534508413488415

Frey, J. R., Elliott, S. N., & Miller, C. F. (2014). Best practices in social skills training. In A. Thomas & P. Harrison (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology - Student level services (6th ed., pp. 213- 224). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

Elliott, S. N., Frey, J. R., & DiPerna, J. C. (2012). Improving social skills: Enabling academic and interpersonal successes. In S. Brock & S. R. Jimerson (Eds.), Best practices in school crisis prevention and intervention (2nd ed., pp. 55–77). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

Frey, J. R., Elliott, S. N., & Gresham, F. M. (2011). Preschoolers’ social skills: Advances in assessment for intervention using social behavior ratings. School Mental Health, 3, 179-190. doi: 10.1007/s12310-011-9060-y

Frey, J. R., & Kaiser, A. P. (2011). The use of play expansions to increase the diversity and complexity of object play in young children with disabilities. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 31, 99-111. doi: 10.1177/0271121410378758

Beddow, P. A., Kurz, A., & Frey, J. R. (2011). Accessibility theory: Guiding the science and practice of test item design with the test-taker in mind. In S. N. Elliott, R. J. Kettler, P. A. Beddow, & A. Kurz (Eds), Handbook of accessible achievement tests for all students. New York: Springer.

Trent-Stainbrook, A., Kaiser, A. P., & Frey, J. R. (2007). Older siblings’ use of responsive interaction strategies and the effects on their younger siblings with Down Syndrome. Journal of Early Intervention, 29, 273-286. doi: 10.1177/105381510702900401

In the News

Dr. Jennifer Frey was an invited speaker for Child Neurology Grand Rounds at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. There she spoke to residents, physicians, nurses, psychologists, and other professionals about identifying and translating bio-behavioral markers of social communication to support outcomes of children with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Dr. Jennifer Frey, together with colleagues at Arizona State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Vanderbilt University, co-authored the presentation, "Meta-analysis of Early Speech and Language in Children with Cleft Palate with or without Cleft Lip," at the 75th annual meeting of the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association in Pittsburgh.

Dr. Jennifer Frey and doctoral student Carrie Gillispie (Special Education and Disability Studies) published a book chapter entitled "The Accessibility Needs of Students with Disabilities: Special Considerations for Assessment and Instruction" in the newly released second edition of the Handbook of Accessible Instruction and Testing Practices.

Dr. Jennifer Frey attended the 11th Biennial Conference on Research Innovations in Early Intervention (CRIEI) in San Diego, where she co-authored the paper, "Improving early communication outcomes for toddlers with Down syndrome," presented in the symposium Defining Intervention Features to Advance Outcomes of High Risk and Delayed Infants and Toddlers. Also, as part of her ongoing work with the Bridging the Word Gap Research Network, she and colleagues presented their findings from their paper, "The Effects of Parent-implemented Language Interventions on Child Linguistic Outcomes: A Meta-analysis."

Dr. Jennifer Frey co-authored the presentation, "Selecting Intervention Targets to Improve Speech Accuracy for Stops & Fricatives in Children with CP +/- L," at the Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in Los Angeles, CA.