Jenny Roberts is an assistant professor in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences at Hofstra University, and has been teaching at Hofstra since fall 2004. Dr. Roberts is also a developmental psychologist and certified speech-language pathologist. Currently, Dr. Roberts teaches courses in language development, child language disorders, and literacy development and disorders. Her research focus is on the early identification and treatment of children at risk for persistent language impairments. She is also a member of a team of researchers engaged in a 16-year longitudinal study examining the cognitive and linguistic precursors of children at familial risk for dyslexia. As part of this research, she and her students have examined spontaneous language samples for evidence of a broader language impairment in the years prior to reading instruction.
For several years, Dr. Roberts led a diagnostic team investigating the early signs of autism and language impairment in children clinically referred as "late talkers." More recently, she has collaborated with colleagues in the development of language-based therapeutic tools using a "beginning reading through speech" approach, for children at risk for reading failure. In addition to this research, she has published research in other areas, including in early infant social cognition, the language abilities of children with autism, and the language development of internationally adopted children.
Dr. Roberts earned a B.A. in psychology from the University of Vermont, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology from Boston University. She completed certification requirements for speech-language pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital's Institute of Health Professions. While working as a speech-language pathologist in the Boston area, Dr. Roberts became interested in the language development of internationally adopted children. Serving on several early intervention assessment teams, she evaluated numerous children who were newly adopted and were brought for evaluation shortly after arrival. She noticed that while she did not recommend speech and language services for many of these children because of their good communication skills, others soon became part of her caseload. She wondered if there were guidelines available for determining what might be typical language development in the population of internationally adopted children, and discovered that there was little published research in this area. After beginning her academic career in 2000, she began collaborating with colleagues who had adopted children of their own, and together they conducted several studies on the language development of children adopted from China. Dr. Roberts is also the proud aunt of an adorable 4-year-old niece adopted from China.