Language Use in Autism

What are the goals of the study?

A short, online survey about words and phrases used when talking about autism. Our aim is to inform how communities may best and most supportively discuss autism.

What will happen during the visit or online?

You will be asked to rate a list of words/phrases commonly associated with autism based on how harmful/pathologizing vs affirming/helpful you believe they are.

How will this help families?

Study findings will be used to make recommendations about language that is most preferred and affirming when talking about autism. Following these recommendations will allow individuals on the spectrum and their families to receive care that aligns with the values of the autism community and inform training and education efforts.

In less than 45 minutes, participants can help us understand the greater extent of mental abilities seen in autism and help dispel harmful per-conceived notions of the autistic mind.

What are the goals of the study?

This study aims to understand how people mentally represent others on a more nuanced level.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participants will read short (4-sentence) stories and make True/False responses about the people in them. Then participants will read statements and judge how pragmatically sound they are for communication.

How will this help families?

Improving our understanding of the social brain can inform the way families affected by autism understand and interact with their loved ones. Allow them to enjoy an improved quality of life, based on an understanding of autism gained through scientific insights.

SOR is highly prevalent in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), causing discomfort and stress, impacting daily life.

What are the goals of the study?

The goal of the study is to see what effects transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has on neurobiological mechanisms underlying sensory over-responsiveness (SOR) in individuals with autism.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participants will undergo MRI and TMS as well as answer online questionnaires.

How will this help families?

To date there a few treatments for SOR and TMS could be a treatment that ends up dramatically improving the quality of life of ASD individuals and their families.

SOR is a highly prevalent feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). SOR can be highly disruptive yet there are few treatments to deal with this discomfort. This study can validate a readily available medication to be used as a treatment for SOR.

What are the goals of the study?

The goal of the study is to examine the short-term effect of propranolol on observed sensory over-responsiveness (SOR) behaviors. The study will also look at biomarkers (heart rate, sweat response, neural activity) associated with a SOR response to characterize the effect of propranolol.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participants will take medication at two time points and then complete an MRI and sensory games. Families are also asked to complete questionnaires as part of the study. Short cognitive assessments may be completed to confirm eligibility for the study.

How will this help families?

Participating in this study will allow families to see if propranolol is an effective intervention for SOR and can help with discomfort or distress associated with it. This study can also lead to clinical trials aimed at finding more treatments for ASD individuals with SOR.

This study will look at how our participant’s sensory processing changes as they develop into adolescents. This is an important period of growth and can greatly inform us about what changes the brain undergoes during this time, something that can be useful for future studies.

What are the goals of the study?

A primary goal of the study is to understand how sensory processing develops over adolescence. We hope to identify neurobiological mechanisms related to sensory over-responsiveness (SOR) with the goal of informing the development of targeted interventions.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participants will complete an MRI as well as some sensory games and questionnaires. There are some short cognitive assessments done to confirm eligibility for the study.

How will this help families?

Our study provides research reports to families describing their child’s sensory processing abilities in relation to their peers. This research may also help inform future research into treatment for sensory over-responsiveness (SOR)

Sensory-based interventions are commonly prescribed by occupational therapists in the treatment of children with autism spectrum disorder and related neurodevelopmental disorders. However, while there is emerging evidence for Ayres Sensory Integration therapy in individuals with IQs above 65, many studies evaluating the efficacy of various sensory-based interventions have demonstrated low or insufficient strength of evidence. This study aims to pinpoint interventions that might be promising candidates for targeted trials based on prevalence and perceived efficacy in a large community sample.

What are the goals of the study?

The purpose of this research study is to identify the sensory interventions and strategies that caregivers consider the most effective at treating or managing their child’s sensory reactivity symptoms.

What will happen during the visit or online?

If you agree to take part in this research, you will be asked to complete a 5-10 minute anonymous survey, which will ask you to identify your child’s sensory preferences and your satisfaction with the sensory interventions you use currently or have tried in the past.

How will this help families?

By participating in this study, caregivers of children with autism can share their experiences with the sensory interventions that have worked best for their child. The goal of this project is to use these responses to drive future research to improve the efficacy and accessibility of these strategies.

This study could help dispel dated and harmful notions about the limits of the autistic mind. We aim to understand certain forms of social cognition on a more nuanced level to explore the greater extent of autistic abilities beyond what has been previously assumed.

What are the goals of the study?

To understand complex social cognitive processes and their instantiation in neuro-divergent individuals.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Online Study: Participation usually takes less than 1 hour and entails reading short (4 sentence) stories and quickly answering True/False prompts. Then making judgements about the linguistic “strangeness” of statements made about agents in stories.

How will this help families?

The results of this study will provide new insight on the nature of certain cognitive processes. Equipped with this new knowledge, families of individuals affected by autism can better understand and interact with this population such that one’s quality of life may be improved.

Individuals with autism can have reduced awareness of what strengths they possess. This can associated with lower self-esteem, mood disorders, and negative repetitive thinking about one’s self. This study is looking to explore strength awareness in adolescents with autism, in hopes to investigate the effects of improving strength awareness

What are the goals of the study?

We are looking to evaluate how young adults identify and express their own personal identities.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Fill out surveys via a secure research platform asking about experiences, mood, and how one describes oneself (roughly one hour, can be completed over separate sessions) 2. Parent or legal guardian will fill out surveys about their child (roughly one hour).

How will this help families?

Decreased strength awareness can be problematic for children as they transition into adulthood. It can cause reduced ability to advocate for oneself in relationships, school settings, and during employment. This study is evaluating strength awareness in adolescents with autism to further research the effects of decreased and increased strength awareness.

Individuals with autism are significantly under-employed, and those within 2 years of high school graduation experience the most significant risk of unemployment. If successful, this research study will result in a novel intervention that enhances interviewing skills that may lead to better employment outcomes. While the primary goal of the study is to improve character strength identification in the context of a job interview, it could potentially expand to other areas in life as well.

What are the goals of the study?

We are looking to evaluate how effective a strength-based intervention my be in improving job interview skills in young adults.

What will happen during the visit or online?

A baseline testing session, lasting roughly 2 hours. 2. After this testing session, each participant will be randomly placed into a “training group” (which will participate in 9 online sessions lasting 60 minutes each) or the “control group” (which will do nothing but will receive the training material to use on their own after study completion). 3. All participants will participate in a follow-up testing session, lasting roughly 2 hours. 4. After the follow-up session, participants will be contacted in 6 month by phone call.

How will this help families?

Inability to obtain work can lead to negative outcomes including reduced ability to establish financial independence and reduced satisfaction of life. In hopes of better employment outcomes for individuals with autism, this research study examines a novel intervention to enhance job interview skills.

Autistic individuals experience depression differently, and at a higher rate, than typically-developing individuals, yet there is no measure that specifically measures depression in autistic populations. As such, we have created a new measure to look at depressive symptomatology as seen in autistic populations. Our study will provide us with a more complete understanding of autistic youth’s mental health, while also providing professionals with a more accurate understanding of how to tailor treatments for depressive symptoms in autistic individuals.

What are the goals of the study?

In our study, we are investigating the overlapping symptoms between depression and autism. The goal of this project is to learn more about depressive symptoms that autistic adolescents may show. We are also hoping to gain a better understanding of whether parents attribute such symptoms to their child’s primary diagnosis of ASD, or to depression, or to something else such as puberty or stress.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Adolescents will be asked to complete a questionnaire about their feelings over the last two weeks. This will take approximately 30 minutes. Parents will also fill out a questionnaire about their child’s feelings, behaviours, and emotions over the two weeks. Then, parents will be asked to complete another questionnaire about their child’s behaviours and emotions over the past 6 months. Together, this should take approximately an hour and a half and will be completed over Zoom. Parents will receive a $20 Amazon gift card and adolescents will receive a $10 Amazon gift card for participating.

How will this help families?

Co-occurring conditions such as depression in autistic individuals can increase stress on both the individual and their family. Our study will provide us with a more accurate understanding of the rate of depression in autism, how depression affects autistic individuals and their families, and how to care for families that are experiencing depression in autism. As such, we can begin to lessen the stress and other impacts that depression can have on autism, and improve the lives of autistic individuals and their families.

This study is important because a child’s own actions influence input from their environment, input that shapes their learning and development. This is a dynamic process, where small initial individual differences in the child’s actions compound to set the child on a drastically different developmental trajectory, aspects of the child (e.g. motor development) and of the child’s environment (e.g. parental responsiveness) influence learning opportunities in real-time. Thus it is crucial to examine differences in learning processes at the group and the individual level within dynamic environments.

What are the goals of the study?

The goal of this study is is to capture how young children view their everyday environments. To accomplish this goal, young children (ages 24-72 months) with ASD, Down Syndrome, and typically developing children and their parent will wear head-mounted cameras at home during typical daily routines. Videos will be coded for the presence of people and objects in their visual field as well as responses to people and situations (e.g. child directed speech and meal times).

What will happen during the visit or online?

After participants pass the pre-screen and intake call, participants will be asked to partake in pre-post questionnaires and an up to hour long at-home recording.

How will this help families?

Once influential differences are identified, changes in these differences could then be translated for use as outcome measures.

Autism is often not diagnosed until after 24 months of age, yet through our IBIS research, we’ve identified early changes in brain development occurring between 6 and 12 months. By further expanding our research in early brain development, we hope to identify methods for earlier identification and more individualized treatment.

What are the goals of the study?

Our goal is to understand early brain development in autism, which we hope will lead to earlier identification and more individualized supports.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Families travel to one of 5 sites for visits at 6, 12 and 24 months. Visits last approximately two days and include un-sedated MRIs during natural sleep along with various developmental assessments. Participants receive around $450 per visit along with reimbursement for travel expenses. This study is being conducted nationally across 5 sites in Seattle, Minneapolis, Chapel Hill (NC), Philadelphia, and St. Louis

How will this help families?

We hope to identify methods for earlier identification of autism and more individualized interventions.