A photo of Rebecca Shaffer.

Rebecca C. Shaffer, PsyD

  • Clinical Psychologist, Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology
  • Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



My biggest passion is seeing children with neurobehavioral disorders learn and grow through treatment. It is exciting when these children can engage in new activities or friendships based on the skills they learn, particularly when they learn to regulate their emotions and behaviors.

My research career has been dedicated to the treatment and research of neurobehavioral disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), fragile X syndrome and Angelman syndrome. It is a pleasure for me to serve these children and their families.

My current career path began in general child psychology, but I became focused on neurobehavioral disorders during my fellowship and first faculty position at Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine. After my time at IU, I joined Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the Kelly O’Leary Autism Center. Currently, I serve as an associate professor of pediatrics with an affiliated appointment at the University of Cincinnati.

I have a commitment to training future leaders in neurobehavioral care. As the director of psychological services for the Cincinnati Fragile X Center, I oversee the assessment and treatment of individuals with fragile X syndrome. I also lead or assist with several fragile X research studies focused on parent training, outcome measurement and medication trials.

Emotional regulation is an area of need, especially in children with ASD. It is my strongest area of interest. Difficulties in emotional regulation make it hard for children to fully enjoy life and can place a huge burden on their families. My team has created an emotion regulation treatment program for children with ASD called Regulating Together.

Regulating Together treats emotion dysregulation, especially with reactivity and irritability, in a group setting with concurrent caregiver training. I currently lead several research studies, as well as publications, focused on the development and efficacy of this program. I also serve as the primary investigator of the Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research (SPARK) study at Cincinnati Children’s and other ASD-specific studies.

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The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on School-Aged Children with Fragile X Syndrome. Silver, H; Rosselot, H; Shaffer, R; Lozano, R. Genes. 2022; 13.

Brief Report: Feasibility of the Probabilistic Reversal Learning Task as an Outcome Measure in an Intervention Trial for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Schmitt, LM; Sweeney, JA; Erickson, CA; Shaffer, R. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2022; 52:4191-4199.

Integrating de novo and inherited variants in 42,607 autism cases identifies mutations in new moderate-risk genes. Zhou, X; Feliciano, P; Shu, C; Wang, T; Astrovskaya, I; Hall, JB; Obiajulu, JU; Wright, JR; Murali, SC; Xu, SX; et al. Nature Genetics. 2022; 54:1305-1319.

Systematic Review: Emotion Dysregulation in Syndromic Causes of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Shaffer, RC; Reisinger, DL; Schmitt, LM; Lamy, M; Dominick, KC; Smith, EG; Coffman, MC; Esbensen, AJ. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2022.

Brief Report: Telehealth Satisfaction Among Caregivers of Pediatric and Adult Psychology and Psychiatry Patients with Intellectual and Developmental Disability in the Wake of Covid-19. Rosen, V; Blank, E; Lampert, E; Dominick, K; Will, M; Erickson, C; Pedapati, E; Lamy, M; Shaffer, R. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2022.

Children with ASD establish joint attention during free-flowing toy play without face looks. Yurkovic-Harding, J; Lisandrelli, G; Shaffer, RC; Dominick, KC; Pedapati, EV; Erickson, CA; Yu, C; Kennedy, DP. Current Biology. 2022; 32:2739-2746.e4.

Incorporation of Telepsychiatry for Patients with Developmental Disorders into Routine Clinical Practice-A Survey of Specialty Clinics Adapting to Telepsychiatry During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Verma, S; Vandana, P; Soda, T; Koth, KA; Aguayo, P; Shaffer, RC; Hellings, J; Muhle, RA. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2022.

Regulating Together: Emotion Dysregulation Group Treatment for ASD Youth and Their Caregivers. Shaffer, RC; Schmitt, LM; Reisinger, DL; Coffman, M; Horn, P; Goodwin, MS; Mazefsky, C; Randall, S; Erickson, C. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2022.

Saliva RNA Biomarkers of Gastrointestinal Dysfunction in Children With Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Potential Implications for Precision Medicine. Beversdorf, DQ; Sohl, K; Levitskiy, D; Tennant, P; Goin-Kochel, RP; Shaffer, RC; Confair, A; Middleton, FA; Hicks, SD. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2022; 12.

Using head-mounted eye tracking to examine visual and manual exploration during naturalistic toy play in children with and without autism spectrum disorder. Yurkovic, JR; Lisandrelli, G; Shaffer, RC; Dominick, KC; Pedapati, EV; Erickson, CA; Kennedy, DP; Yu, C. Scientific Reports. 2021; 11.

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