Jennifer Harrison Elder, PhD, RN, FAAN

Professor and PhD Program Director

University of Florida
PO Box 100187
Gainesville, FL 32610-0187
HPNP 2224

Telephone: 352-273-6318
Fax: 352-273-6356


Dr. Elder has taught across all levels of the curriculum including both didactic and clinical courses. She currently focuses on directing the PhD program, teaching PhD students research methods, coordinating the undergraduate honors program, and providing research experiences for undergraduate honors students. She mentors PhD students whose dissertations focus on autism and related disorders, parent child interactions, in-home parent training, father-child interventions, and innovative technologies for promoting child and family health. Her teaching/mentoring has been recognized with a Howard Hughes Mentoring Institute Distinguished Mentor Award, two UF Superior Accomplishment Awards, and two UF Research Professorship Awards.


Dr. Elder has spent over 30 years studying autism and related child neuropsychiatric disorders and includes students from nursing and a variety of other disciplines in all of her research. Much of her family-focused work examines methods of educating families, enhancing family cohesion, and reducing caregiver stress of children with autism. Dr. Elder has been the primary investigator on four NIH/NINR grants totaling over $2.5 million dollars. She has given numerous international research presentations including an invited presentation in New Delhi by India’s president.


Dr. Elder is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and frequently reviews for NIH, Department of Defense, American Nurses Foundation, Southern Nursing Research Society, Sigma Theta Tau International and refereed journals both in and outside the field of nursing. She has served on a variety of committees both within the College of Nursing and University. She is a member of the American Nurses Association, Florida Nurses Association, Southern Nursing Research Society, International Society for Autism Research, and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society in Nursing.

Area of Expertise

Dr. Elder has expertise in psychiatric/mental health nursing, pediatrics and child mental health, quantitative research methods including single subject experimental design, and ethical conduct of research. Her administrative experience has spanned ten years: five years as a department chair, five years as an associate dean for research, and current director of UFCON’s PhD program.


Dr. Elder received her BSN in Nursing at the Medical College of Georgia. She received her MSN in Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing and her PhD in Nursing Science at the University of Florida

Selected Publications

  • Brown, A. & Elder, J.H. (2014 accepted, in press) Communication in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Guide for Pediatric Nurses, Pediatric Nursing.
  • Smith, L, Elder, J.H., Rowe, M.R, & Storch, E. (2014 accepted, in press) Adolescent Siblings of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Resources and Predictors of Coherence.
  • Elder, J. H. (2013). Can diet really improve autism? The Carlat Report in Child Psychiatry, 4, 1-5.
  • Straham, B. & Elder, J.H. (2013) Obesity in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 7, 1497–1500.
  • Bendixen, R, Elder, J., Donaldson, S., Kairalla, J., Valcante, G., & Ferdig, R. (2011).  Effects of a father-based in-home intervention on perceived stress and family dynamics in parents of children with autism. American Journal of Occupational Therapy 65(6), 679-87.
  • Donaldson S.,Elder, J., Self, E., & Christie, M. (2011).  Fathers’ Perceptions of Their Roles During In-Home Training for Children With Autism, Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 24 (2011), 200–207.
  • Elder, J. H., Donaldson, S. O., Kairalla, J., Valcante, G., Bendixen, R., Ferdig, R., Self, E., Walker, J.,  Palau, C., &  Serrano, M. (2011). In-home training for fathers of children with autism: A follow up study and evaluation of four individual training components. Journal of Child and Family Studies 20(3):263-271. doi:10.1007/s10826-010-9387-2, PMC Journal –PMC3087101.
  • Smith, L. O., & Elder, J. H. (2010). Siblings and Family Environments of Persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 23, 189-195.
  • White, M. A., Elder, J.H., Paavilainen, E., Joronen, K. Helgadottir, H.L., & Seidl, A., (2009). Family Dynamics in the United States, Finland and Iceland, Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences 24(1), 84-91.
  • Elder, J.H. and D’Alessandro, T. (2009). Supporting families of children with autism spectrum disorders: questions parent ask and what nurses need to know. Pediatric Nursing, 35(4):240-245, 253.
  • Inglese, M. D. and Elder, J.H., (2009). Caring for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Part I,  Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 24(1):41-8.
  • Storch, E. & Elder, J.H. (2009) Introduction to the Special Series on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 24(1):1-2.
  • Ferdig, R.E., Amberg, H.G., Elder, J.H., Donaldson, S.A., Valcante, G., Bendixen, R. (2009).  Autism and family  interventions:  The use of the Internet to train fathers of autistic children.  International Journal of Web-based Learning and Teaching Technologies
  • Elder, J. H. (2008). The Gluten-Free Casein-Free Diet in Autism: An Overview with Clinical Implications.                                Nutrition in Clinical Practice. 23(6):583-8.
  • Ferdig, R.E., Amberg, H.G., Elder, J.H, Valcante, G., Donaldson, S., & Bendixen, R. (2008).  The development of a web-based platform for fathers of children with autism.  Learning Technology [Online serial], 10 (2), 11-15.
  • Cormier, E. & Elder, J.H. (2007). Diet and Child Behavior Problems: Fact or Fiction? Pediatric Nursing, 33 (2), 138-142.
  • Seung, H.K., Rogalski, Y., Shankar, M. & Elder, J.H. (2007). The Gluten- and Casein-Free Diet and Autism: Communication Outcomes from A Preliminary Double-Blind Clinical Trial. Journal of Medical Speech-Language Pathology, 15, 337-345.
  • Seung, H.K., Siddiqi, S., & Elder, J. H.  (2006). Intervention outcomes of a bilingual child with autism. Journal of Medical Speech Language Pathology, 14, 1, 53-63.
  • Elder, J.H., Shankar, M, Shuster, J., Theriaque, D., Burns, S. & Sherrill, L.  (2006) The Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet In Autism: Results Of A Preliminary Double Blind Clinical Trial, Journal of Autism and Related Disorders, 36 (3), 413-420.
  • Won, D.Y., Seung, H.K., & Elder, J.H. (2005).  In Home mother training on social reciprocity for Korean children with autism.  Korean Academy of Child Health Nursing, 11 (4), 444-455.
  • Elder, J.H., Valcante, G., Yarandi, H., White, D., & Elder, T. (2005) Evaluating in-home training for fathers of children with autism using single-subject experimentation and group analysis methods, Nursing Research, 54 (1), 22-32.
  • Elder, J.H., Valcante, G., Won, D., & Zylis, R. (2003).  Effects of in-home training for culturally diverse fathers of children with autism.  Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 24, 273-295.
  • Elder, J.H., Valcante, G., Yarandi, H., Groce, S., & Carlton, M. (2002).  Social interactions of children with autism:  A comparison of father-child and mother-child clinic and home play sessions.  Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 28, 573-581.Book Chapters

    Elder, J.H. (2013) Empowering families in the treatment of autism. In M. Fitzgerald (Ed) Autism: Book I. Rijeka: Intech.

    Ferdig, R.E., Amberg, H.G., Elder, J.H., Donaldson, S.A., Valcante, G., Bendixen, R. (2011). Autism and family interventions through technology: A description of a web-based tool to educate fathers of children with autism.  In Ng, E.M.W, Karacapilidis, N., & Raisinghani, M. (Eds.), Dynamic advancements in teaching and learning based technologies: New concepts (pp. 232-246). Hershey, PA: IGI Publishing.