Therapy for Minimally Verbal Autistic Adults

We are inviting autistic adults who have limited verbal communication to participate in a research study that includes 12 weeks of therapy. This would be helpful for people who are struggling with “feeling down”, which can be seen as low or sad mood, change in motivation to participate in activities, and change in sleep. 1-2 people who support the adult would join in the therapy to provide support and learn, as well.

What are the goals of the study?

This study is adapting a mental health treatment for people with intellectual disability to meet the needs of minimally verbal autistic adults.

What will happen during the visit or online?

The participant will complete 12 therapy sessions and assessment visits to check in how they are doing along the way. The 1-2 people who come with them to support and learn will also participate

How will this help families?

This study is about a mental health treatment for minimally verbal autistic adults.

Research has described difficulties in recognising other people’s emotions in people with autism. Until now, however, there are few efficient and reliable methods for identifying these difficulties. Together with the University of Zurich, the Swiss Epilepsy Centre is developing the COSIMO online test to fill this gap.

What are the goals of the study?

Through this study we can further develop the COSIMO test and advance our knowledge of emotion recognition in people with autism.

What will happen during the visit or online?

In this anonymous online study you will be tasked with identifying emotions portrayed in short film sequences and still images of the eyes. It will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete.

How will this help families?

Difficulties in recognising other people’s emotions have important implications for the social life of affected individuals. Identifying potential difficulties with emotion recognition has been found to be relevant for therapeutic interventions in Autism Spectrum Disorders, in order to improve possible difficulties with work or other relationships.

The purpose of this study is to investigate the neural mechanisms associated with visual and social perception in adults with and without autism. Participants complete a 2-hour MRI scan during which they watch a full episode of the BBC show “Sherlock”, a memory recall task which requires them to summarize the episode in their own words, a brief IQ assessment, and five questionnaires. Participants are compensated with a $120 VISA gift card.

What are the goals of the study?

The long-term goal of this research is to understand the neural basis of social interaction perception in controlled and naturalistic contexts, and differences associated with underlying neural mechanisms of autism.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Research appointments at our Center in Baltimore, Maryland are scheduled Monday-Friday. Appointments are approximately four hours. Participants complete a 2-hour MRI scan during which they watch a full episode of the BBC show “Sherlock”, a memory recall task which requires them to summarize the episode in their own words, a brief IQ assessment, and five questionnaires.

How will this help families?

This research will enable clinicians to better understand the neural underpinnings of autism-related symptoms and inform therapies, such as social skills trainings, to more effectively target differences.

Researchers at Rutgers University are conducting a research study to evaluate a 10-session telehealth-based group therapy program.

What are the goals of the study?

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of an adapted telehealth Group Behavioral Activation Therapy (GBAT+) for autistic adults. GBAT+ is intended to help adults manage stress, anxiety, low moods, and anger.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Eligible people will be asked to complete questionnaires, 5 individual assessment visits, and 10 group therapy sessions.

How will this help families?

Participants will receive 10 group therapy sessions and be compensated up to $230 for completion of assessments.

My name is Samri and I am a research participant recruiter from Miami University’s Later Language Development Lab. I am reaching out to you today with the opportunity to contribute to our NIH-supported research on the development of a social communication assessment tool which targets adolescents and young adults at the age of transition. We are currently seeking participants between the ages of 14 and 21 years old with a native proficiency in English and typical hearing. We are asking that participants meet one-on-one with a member of our research team for 1-1.5 hours via Zoom to answer a series of interview questions which probe their knowledge of how to communicate in different contexts. After, the participant will be paid the sum of $30-50 via Zelle for their involvement. This study is being conducted by Dr. Trace Poll from the Speech Pathology and Audiology Department at Miami University alongside Jan Petru from Elmhurst University, who is acting as our clinical consultant for the study.

What are the goals of the study?

Specifically, we are continuing research on our development of a social communication assessment tool tailored to adolescents and young adults preparing for the transition from high school to post-school contexts. This tool that we are developing is called the Transition Pragmatics Interview (or the TPI).

What will happen during the visit or online?

This commitment includes the signing of a consent form, the completion of a brief history form, and a 1-1.5 hour meeting via Zoom to answer interview questions probing their knowledge of how to communicate in different situational contexts.

How will this help families?

The information from this project provides information on the degree to which the TPI is a valid and reliable measure of social communication. Speech-language pathologists, special educators and related professionals currently lack assessment instruments that address the population and contexts targeted by the TPI. The project will indicate how the TPI may improve on clinical judgment, or the findings of instruments less targeted to the needs of adolescents and young adults with disabilities in transition programs. Fundamentally, the results will indicate how the TPI may be refined in order to become a more valid and reliable measure.

The objective of this study is to assess the stress level and engagement of students subjected to different forms of training. The subjects will include students and trainees with learning and/or developmental disabilities in addition to neurotypical students. The training will be delivered in multiple forms: pre-recorded single viewer, prerecorded with additional participants, pre-scripted live one-on-one and/or pre-scripted live with additional participants. We aim to determine which training is least stressful and most engaging for students and if differences exist based on a specific disability with a focus on students with autism spectrum disorder.

What are the goals of the study?

The objective of this study is to assess the stress level and engagement of students subjected to different forms of training.

What will happen during the visit or online?

The subjects will be fitted with a Shimmer Glove on their hand and will wear TobiiPro glasses for eye tracking or an eye tracking bar will be used. Each subject will be asked to submit a salivary sample before each training and directly after each training. They will be asked to complete 3 trainings over 4 visits. The Neurodivergent will attend an acclimation session in which no training is offered.

How will this help families?

This could help them learn which teaching method (in-person, prerecorded video or zoom) is best for their loved one. Which will help them to be stronger advocates.

We are the TRANSCEND Research Team at Massachusetts General Hospital – thank you so much for your interest in our research! Our research is about how different areas in the brain are connected in autism compared to typically developing individuals, and is entirely non-invasive. We are currently recruiting individuals ages 14-32. The study would involve behavioral assessments, and 1-2 sessions in the MEG, a device that reads brainwaves, and is similar to EEG. We will also determine with you whether an MRI is needed. If so, it will be a very short one – about 10-15 minutes. You can read more about our studies on our website: http://transcend.mgh.harvard.edu/ We reimburse for time at the rate of $30/hr for behavioral assessments, and $70/hr for MRI/MEG visits. We also reimburse for travel expenses such as Uber and Lyft costs (up to $80 per visit) and for parking. Note also that our visit times are flexible, and we will do our best to accommodate your schedule.

What are the goals of the study?

Our research group studies brain development and associated medical conditions in healthy adults and adults with developmental disorders such as autism, an autism spectrum disorder, language impairments, attention deficit disorders, or sensory processing disorders, including misophonia. Specifically, we are trying to understand how sensory information (sight, hearing, and touch) is processed in the brain of an individual with autism spectrum or other developmental disorders as compared to a healthy individual.

What will happen during the visit or online?

The study would involve behavioral assessments, and 1-2 sessions in the MEG, a device that reads brainwaves, and is similar to EEG. We will also determine with you whether an MRI is needed. If so, it will be a very short one – about 10-15 minutes. If you self-identify as having misophonia, we will ask you to get a comprehensive audiology exam at the Mass Eye and Ear Audiology clinic affiliated with MGH, to rule out other potential auditory processing disorders.

How will this help families?

There is no direct benefit to the subject for participating in the research. We hope that the information gathered in our studies will aid in the identification, understanding, and treatment of autism.

RAYS, a Brown University research study, is aimed at studying the outcomes and development of autistic teens and young adults aged 12-24 as they navigate adolescence to early adulthood.

What are the goals of the study?

The goal of RAYS is to examine the challenges and problems that adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum experience over the course of adolescence and young adulthood, especially their exposure to alcohol and other drugs.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participation involves 4 interviews over 3 years, each one year apart after the initial assessment. The study consists mainly of interviews and filling out questionnaires on mood, behavior, alcohol and other drug use, and relationships with family and friends. Teens/young adults can earn up to $395 for participating over the course of the study and parents/guardians can earn up to $225. All visits can be done remotely or in-person. The length of the visits vary by timepoint. Our baseline assessment generally takes 3-4 hours, T2 takes about one hour, T3 takes about 3 hours and T4 takes about one hour. All assessments can be broken up into multiple sessions if needed or completed in one sitting – we leave it up to the participant. If a participant is over 18 years old, their parent/guardian does not need to participate in order for the young adult to participate. If their parent/guardian would like to join the study at a later point, we will try to accommodate enrolling them. 

How will this help families?

This study can help researchers better understand the experiences of adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum.

Researchers in the Vanderbilt University Medical Center department of hearing and speech sciences are running a study to better understand why some autistic people are more sensitive to everyday sounds than others and how this relates to the way the brain processes sound.

What are the goals of the study?

Although they are not frequently diagnosed, sound sensitivity disorders, including hyperacusis, misophonia, and phonophobia, are extremely common in the autistic population. The purpose of the current research study is to compare and contrast people with and without these different sound sensitivity syndromes in terms of their clinical symptoms, hearing, brain function, and mental health. By examining a group of adults with ALL levels and types of sound sensitivity (including no sound sensitivity at all), we hope to answer fundamental questions about the nature of sound sensitivity and improve the ways in which clinicians diagnose and assess patients with this common complaint.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Study participants will be asked to complete some online questionnaires and come to Vanderbilt for up to two in-person sessions. The first in-person session includes psychoacoustic (hearing) tests, interviews, and standardized psychological assessments. After that session, you may qualify for a second session that will include more hearing tests, brainwave recordings (EEG), and other measures of auditory function. There are no anticipated risks to you, and you may not benefit directly from your participation in this study, though you will have the opportunity to request a report of your study results. Following a screening questionnaire (approximately 10–15 minutes), there are two visits to the laboratory (each lasting approximately 3-5 hours) and two groups of online questionnaires (approximately 20–40 minutes each).

How will this help families?

Currently, research on autism and sound sensitivity has been limited to primarily descriptive studies of prevalence, and there is very little understanding of underlying mechanisms, let alone any evidence-based diagnostic or treatment strategies. This work will be foundational in advancing our knowledge of this problem and its underlying causes in the autistic population, which can hopefully lead the way toward better clinical care for autistic people who experience sound sensitivity in their everyday lives.

We want to measure brain rhythms in children/teens with and without ASD during overnight sleep at home using wearable sleep headbands.

What are the goals of the study?

We’re hoping to learn more about differences in brain rhythms during sleep. Since lab-based sleep studies are expensive and burdensome, a sleep headband that could accurately and comfortably measure sleep rhythms at home would allow us to study more people over longer periods of time and help us learn more about sleep disruptions in different populations.

What will happen during the visit or online?

We will send a sleep headband to participants and conduct a remote training session to teach participants how to set it up and use it. Participants will then sleep at home with the headband for up to 3 consecutive nights. We will have daily checkins and offer remote technical assistance as needed. Participants will answer some questionnaires and surveys, and return the headband in a pre-paid box at the end of the study.

How will this help families?

Learning more about sleep differences may help us develop treatments for sleep difficulties in the future.

We are a group of researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, doing a study, titled Knowledge, Perceptions, and Use of Psychedelics among intellectually able adults with autism spectrum condition: An online survey. We are doing this project to learn about the perception, opinions, and knowledge of autistic adults about psychedelics, and whether they have used them in the past. Psychedelic compounds are a group of chemicals that change or enhance sensory perceptions, thought processes, and energy levels.

What are the goals of the study?

These compounds are sometimes used to facilitate spiritual experiences. Psychedelic compounds have shown impressive effects in neurotypical people with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance misuse, and obsessive compulsive disorder, etc. Many clinical trials of psychedelics have been published in neurotypical populations and many more are ongoing. Nonetheless, there has been only one clinical trial of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), one of psychedelics) in autistic adults with co-occurring social anxiety disorder. This neglect represents mental health and research inequity. Therefore, we want to do this study to listen to voices from autistic people to guide research and practice priorities surrounding the possible future uses of psychedelics.

What will happen during the visit or online?

They will be asked for responses to the online survey regarding their opinions and past experiences with psychedelics. The survey should take between 20 to 30 minutes to complete. Any information we collect from people is private and deciding to complete the survey is voluntary. Completing the survey (or not) will not impact the care anyone receives at their medical service providers (including CAMH) now or in the future.

How will this help families?

In order to better respond to the diverse needs of autistic people and to develop new interventions for their various co-occurring mental health concerns, it is crucial to represent the ASC population in empirical research on psychedelics (Oritz et al., 2022). Obtaining the opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of this new treatment method in individuals with ASC would depend on the perspectives of the ASC population on psychedelics, as well as their willingness to try them as a potential treatment. It is important to find out what kind of research and mental health improvements are of value to autistic individuals. It is equally important to obtain their perspective prior to carrying out such studies. Moreover, it is vital to transform the experiences of autistic adults into knowledge that can be used to redefine current research strategies (Pukki et al., 2022). Valuing the voices of autistic individuals and involving their opinions can have highly beneficial consequences such as the correction of existing stigmas and misconceptions of concepts about autism and neurodiversity, and can lead clinical research towards more effective directions (Pukki et al., 2022).

The current study will be conducted by a research team at the University of Maryland College Park, via Zoom and aims to teach peer type family members (PFM) such as siblings or cousins of autistic children/youth to use video prompting to support daily living skills. The primary aim of the study is to examine the PFM fidelity of implementation using a single-case design across 10 child-family member dyads. The secondary aim is to examine the effects of PFM-implemented video prompting on daily living skills of children or youth with autism using a single-case design across the same 10 dyads. The third aim of the study is to descriptively analyze the social validity of the intervention by having the participants complete an anonymous survey (for caregivers) or a Zoom session (for child/youth and the PFM). The findings will provide implications for family-involved learning of daily living skills using virtual coaching in natural settings. This study is important because autistic children and youth have benefited from step-by-step directions to learn daily routines including mealtime, brushing teeth, or doing laundry or dishes. For example, video prompting has been shown to be effective to introduce cooking, academic, functional, and social skills. Previous research shows that peer-type family members (PFM) such as siblings successfully implement interventions to support diverse skills for autistic children/youth. Thus, the use of PFM-implemented video prompting could be beneficial to support the daily living skills of children or youth with autism.

What are the goals of the study?

The study attempts to teach PFMs of autistic children/youth to use video prompting to support daily living skills. The main goal is to examine the PFM fidelity of implementation using a single-case design across 10 child-family member dyads. The secondary aim is to examine the effects of PFM-implemented video prompting on daily living skills of the same children/youth with autism. Finally, the study descriptively analyzes the social validity of the intervention by interviewing the participants.

What will happen during the visit or online?

The study will take place via Zoom for approximately 3 months with 2-3 sessions per week and the following procedure: • 5-minute questionnaire • 5-10 minutes observation of the child engaging in the everyday skills (about 1-2 weeks) • 20-minute training for PFM to use video-based learning (about 2-3 weeks) • 20-minute session for observation of, and feedback for child and PFM (about 3-4 weeks) • 5-minute observation of the child/youth engaging in everyday skills (about 1-3 times) after the training is over • 5-minute survey for caregiver, and 10-minute Zoom session with child/youth and PFM to ask for feedback about the research process

How will this help families?

We hope to better understand how peer type family members such as siblings or cousins could participate in home-based daily living skills learning and practice for autistic individuals using video clips and video prompting. Specifically, we want to understand how family members can receive training via a virtual platform, and implement the intervention to fidelity. Additionally, we want to examine how effective it is for a sibling or a cousin to facilitate video-based learning of daily living skills on the autistic individual’s outcome. Finally, we want to understand how feasible and relevant these training and intervention strategies are for caregivers, autistic individuals, and their peer type family members.