Autism Science Foundation Announces Recipients of Second Round of COVID-19 Pivot Grant Recipients

New grants will seek to measure social communication skills in children with autism who are stuck at home, and will help expand a special education math curriculum for use online.

ASF also announces a request for applications for a third round of pivot grants and launches a new funding mechanism to study the effects of covid-19 on people with autism.

NEW YORK — September 8, 2020 — The Autism Science Foundation (ASF), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting and funding innovative autism research, today announced its second round of COVID-19 Pivot Grant recipients. The grantees are Jacquelyn Moffitt of the University of Miami and Dr. Jenny Root of Florida State University.

Announced in April, the COVID-19 Pivot Grants are meant to help scientists fund needed adaptations or modifications of an original research plan as a result of ongoing shutdowns across research institutions. They are intended to be a fast-turnaround mechanism to accommodate an uncertain situation for the research community. This second round of pivot grants focused on early career investigators (scientists currently pursuing a doctoral degree to those up to seven years post-doctorate).

“Several months into the pandemic, the research community continues to face unprecedented challenges with carrying out planned projects,” said Alison Singer, Co-Founder and President of ASF. “With the help of our Pivot Grants, some of this work can be adapted, ensuring that we continue to make progress toward breakthroughs even amid these difficult circumstances. In addition, ASF has always focused on supporting early career scientists who will be leading the way in this research for years to come, and we are pleased to be able to do so today.”

Moffitt’s grant will enable researchers at the University of Miami to better employ telehealth solutions for children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While the pandemic has made it more difficult to access treatment in clinics, it has created a unique opportunity for researchers to collect information from children about social communication behaviors while they are at home. The Pivot Grant will enable researchers to provide families with language recorders and video cameras, helping to alleviate some of the shortcomings of telehealth and in some cases collect information for a longer period of time than might have been done in person.

Dr. Root’s research is on special education in mathematics. In response to the lack of math curriculums designed for people with an ASD, Root and her colleagues have been building a mathematical instructional program for special education teachers to use with autistic children in a classroom. The Pivot Grant will allow them to adapt this program from being fully teacher-delivered to partially caregiver-delivered using video modules.

ASF also announced today a request for applications for a third round of COVID-19 Pivot Grants and launched a new mechanism to measure the effects of COVID-19 on people with autism.

Pivot Grants may be used to help support new costs encountered due to needed adaptations or modifications to an original research plan as a result of social distancing measures, PPE requirements, and/or the shutdown of research institutions. (For example, these funds can be used to purchase PPE or ipads)

COVID-19 Research funding is available to support some or all of the costs of expanding a current line of research to answer a question related to the effects of the pandemic on families with ASD. These can include studying the effectiveness of telehealth approaches, measuring effectiveness of virtually-delivered special education programs, understanding short or long-term consequences of social distancing, understanding the effects of COVID-19 in animal or cellular models of ASD, as well as specific interventions meant to deal with pandemic-related mental health issues in siblings and other family members. The funding cannot support the development of a project from scratch but rather should be considered as supplementation of an existing project.

The first round of Pivot Grant recipients was announced in June, with funding going to projects focused on early intervention and autism in low-resource households.


Media Contact
Sam Belden
Forefront Communications for Autism Science Foundation