The focus of Marsha Mailick's research is on the life course impacts of developmental disabilities on the family. She is interested in how lifelong caregiving affects the well-being of parents and siblings of individuals with disabilities, including autism, Down syndrome, schizophrenia, and fragile X syndrome. In addition, she has studied how the family environment affects the development of individuals with disabilities during adolescence and adulthood.
Mailick's research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1990. She currently is Principal Investigator of four grants: a 10-year longitudinal study of families of autism during adolescence and adulthood, research on a demographically- representative sample of parents of individuals with developmental disabilities, a study of family adaptation to fragile X syndrome (FXS), and an epidemiological study of the premutation of FXS (the latter is funded by the Centers for Disease Control). She is also collaborating on 20-year follow up of families of older adults with Down syndrome. In all of these projects, Mailick is collaborating with Jan Greenberg.
Together, these studies offer specific insights about parenting a child with a disability, revealing both the stresses of this challenge and the resiliency of parents who cope successfully. In addition, her studies more generally address child effects on parents, revealing the bi-directional and reciprocal influences of parents and children on their unfolding and intersecting development across the life course.