RISE

In this study, we are interested in understanding how infants learn about their world from their response to child-friendly videos they can watch at home. For example, we know from studies in the lab that many babies enjoy looking at social stimuli and are able to remember faces they have seen before. In this study, we are testing to see what we can learn about your babies cognitive development at home. This work may help us identify children with developmental delays in the future. To participate, you and your baby will watch a series of videos on your home computer. We will also ask you to answer questions about your child’s development.

What are the goals of the study?

We want to understand how babies look at and learn from the patterns in the world around them. This is part of a larger study we are running to understand how typically developing babies might learn about their world in different ways than babies with developmental delays.

What will happen during the visit or online?

In this study, your baby will see a series of videos while we record how they respond. These videos include children playing, geometric figures, objects, and patterns. After the videos, we will ask you to complete some surveys within the LookIt platform, and some will be sent to you later. These surveys are common in infant research and cover many different areas of development. You can follow the links below to learn more about each survey. Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales (CSBS) Infant-Toddler Checklist measures the social communication, expression of speech and language, and symbolic abilities of children ages 6 months to 2 years. MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories measures communication and language development in babies and toddlers from 8 to 37 months (about 3 years) of age. Motor-Libertus Early Motor Questionnaire (EMQ) measures the development of early motor skills (such as raising and holding their own head, rolling over, and crawling) in infants and toddlers. Vinland and Adaptive Behavior Scale (VABS) measures communication and social relationships in infants and toddlers to understand home and family-life behaviors. Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) (only at completed for 18-month-old children) screens for signs of autism spectrum disorder in toddlers.

How will this help families?

This work may help us identify children with developmental delays in the future.

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.

The GEMMA (Genome, Environment, Microbiome, and Metabolome in Autism) project aims to understand the many factors that contribute to the development of autism in children who have an autistic sibling.

What are the goals of the study?

The GEMMA project aims to understand how genes, the environment, gut bacteria, and the digestion of food may relate to the development of autism.

What will happen during the visit or online?

  1. Online surveys about food, health, and behavior,
  2. Behavioral assessments (on Zoom) every 6 months from ages 1 to 3,
  3. Periodic saliva, urine, stool, and blood samples (done at home/locally) until age 3,
  4. One time samples from one or both biological parents and from the sibling with ASD

How will this help families?

Your family will be contributing to research that aims to help improve the early diagnosis of autism, as well as understand the GI symptoms associated with autism. All infant participants will receive early developmental assessments from study psychologists.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and social interaction and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior. Given the lack of specific pharmacological therapy for ASD and the clinical heterogeneity of the disorder, researchers at The Johnson Center and the University of Texas Southwestern are undertaking an ASD biomarker study with the goal of identifying biomarkers for determining ASD risk and developing potential therapeutic interventions.

This study may help with identifying ASD risk in very young children so that interventions and therapies can begin as early as possible – this is critical for ensuring the best developmental outcome. We will use machine learning (AI) to identify therapeutic targets that may help with addressing ASD-specific behaviors.

What are the goals of the study?

The purpose of this study is to identify biomarkers of ASD that correlate with behavioral and developmental phenotypes in order to:
1) develop and test biomarker profiles that form a diagnostics tool;
2) screen and identify children with ASD who might benefit from specific interventions; and 3) develop and test biomarker profiles that inform an instrument for monitoring therapeutic response to medical interventions; and improve the clinical well-being of affected children and increase our knowledge base of this disorder.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Your participation will require two parts:

i) Completion of 4 online questionnaires that can be done from home.

ii) Visiting a Lab Service Center, such as Quest, Lab Corp or CPL, near your home for your child to give a small blood sample.

Compensation of $125 is provided upon completion of the study.

How will this help families?

The biomarkers we identify may assist in the development of therapeutic interventions for targeted treatments for autism.

We are conducting a study to better understand autistic girls and how/why autism characteristics are masked in high school. If you are the mother of a high school autistic female in inclusion for at least 80% of the school day, we would love to hear the perspectives of both you and your daughter via a virtual interview and questionnaire! Compensation is available for qualified participants. 

What are the goals of the study?

The goal of this study is to investigate high school aged autistic females who try and “mask” their autistic characteristics as they navigate through everyday high-school life.

What will happen during the visit or online?

An online questionnaire and a zoom interview.

How will this help families?

This study will help empower autistic females as the navigate their high school years.

This research study aims to find out more about adults with autism spectrum disorder, including how adults with autism think, how their brains work, and how these things change as they get older.

What are the goals of the study?

The main goal of the study is to understand the aging process in people with autism.

What will happen during the visit or online?

The study involves autism diagnostic evaluation at the SDSU Center for Autism, and a neuropsychological battery testing the individual’s memory, attention span, and other cognitive skills. Participants are also asked to undergo an MRI scan at the SDSU Imaging Center, which allows us to collect information about the brain anatomy and function. Because we are aiming to understand how people with autism age, we hope to repeat this evaluation in about 3-5 years, inviting participants to return for another scan and a set of assessments.

How will this help families?

Participants in this study report that they learn important information about their memory and other cognitive abilities from participating in the study. Broadly, the results of this study should help us understand how people with autism age – something that has not been studied nor well understood thus far.

In this study, we will present a series of validated eye tracking paradigms (e.g., images of faces, videos of social interactions) while we monitor eye movements and physiological arousal. Two research assistants will also collect behavioral reports of ASD and ADHD symptoms from 8-12 years old participants. These data will allow us to examine how and if eye movements, arousal, and questionnaire outcomes differ between children with ASD and ADHD. By combining eye tracking/arousal measures and behavioral assessments, we will then draft a map of how these social cognitive traits manifest in eye movements.

What are the goals of the study?

The primary aim of this study is to test the utility of a social cognitive battery incorporating psychophysiological measures to differentiate between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

What will happen during the visit or online?

A brief telephone screening will be conducted to determine if the child and family are interested in the study. Then, a research team member will schedule a time for the family to come into the lab for approximately 90 minutes. Prior to the visit, parents will be asked to send a copy of a recent diagnostic assessment to confirm diagnosis. During the visit, the participant will come to our lab with their parent. Upon completion of the consent and assent, cognitive screener will be conducted first to the child and then the eye tracking tasks will be administered using the Eyelink 1000. We will ask the child to sit in front of a computer screen, and we will be showing the child some videos and images while the computer will track the child’s physiological response and their eye movements. Parent and caregivers will complete a few questionnaires by the time. Upon completion of all measures, the participant will be given a $20 gift card for their time.

How will this help families?

Families will receive a feedback summary compiling information regarding their responses on questionnaires, including the Conners, SRS, and CBCL. Families will learn about their children’s current condition in behavior performances and cognitive development. If requested by contacting the lab via phone or email (or indicating during the study visit), a 15 minute phone feedback session will be scheduled for the parents with the PI, clinical psychologist, to discuss the results from the questionnaires. This will also offer the PI a chance to address any other questions the parents may have. Participants will also be compensated $20 for their time.

This pediatric autism clinical research study is currently testing the drug, pimavanserin, to see if it is safe and effective in treating irritability and other behaviors in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Study participation will last for up to 14 weeks, with a 6-week treatment period. Children who enroll in this study will receive either the study drug or placebo. A placebo looks like the study drug but has no impact on the person taking it. There will be no cost for the study drug or any study-related procedures. You may be compensated for your time and travel. If your child completes the 6-week treatment period, they may be able to enroll in a 52-week, open-label extension study if they qualify. During this open-label study, there is no placebo. Children who enroll will receive the study drug, pimavanserin.

What are the goals of the study?

The overall goal of this study is to evaluate whether an investigational drug might help relieve irritable behaviors associated with Pediatric Autism Spectrum Disorder that make social interactions and everyday functioning challenging.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Study participation will last for up to 14 weeks, with a 6-week treatment period. Children who enroll in this study will receive either the study drug or placebo. A placebo looks like the study drug but has no impact on the person taking it. There will be no cost for the study drug or any study-related procedures. You may be compensated for your time and travel.
If your child completes the 6-week treatment period, they may be able to enroll in a 52-week, open-label extension study if they qualify. During this open-label study, there is no placebo. Children who enroll will receive the study drug, pimavanserin.

How will this help families?

The evaluation of this investigational drug may help relieve irritable behaviors associated with Pediatric Autism Spectrum Disorder that make social interactions and everyday functioning challenging.

The genetic changes we study in TIGER3 have been connected with autism and developmental disabilities, but we are just beginning to learn how those changes might affect each person and family differently, and what effects might be shared versus unique across those genetic variants. By learning more about the shared and unique effects of these rare variants, we aim to contribute to (1) better understanding of co-occurring medical and behavioral conditions, and (2) development of individualized supports for affected individuals and their families.

What are the goals of the study?

In the TIGER research study, we are learning more about individuals with genetic events associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), intellectual disability (ID), and/or developmental delay (DD). We hope to better understand and describe how different gene changes influence the development, behavior, and experiences of children and adults. Individuals with these genetic changes may have neurodevelopmental differences that we would like to better understand.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Eligible families participate in a consent phone call, and are then invited to complete a series of video- or phone calls to assess for autism-associated features, adaptive skills, cognitive skills, and medical history. Caregivers are also invited to complete a variety of online questionnaires, including measures of adaptive behavior, treatment history, sleep habits, gastrointestinal symptoms, social-emotional functioning, and executive function. Biospecimen (blood or saliva) collection is completed remotely. Finally, families are offered a feedback session with a clinician and a written report of standardized measures and recommendations.

How will this help families?

Families will be compensated $100 for their participation. Participants may receive feedback about their family’s genetic event(s). Families will also receive written and/or verbal feedback regarding adaptive behavior, social communication skills, language skills, and cognitive skills as available from completed study activities.

Diagnosing ASD is challenging, and in most cases, a variety of subtle signs, unique to each child, build up starting in the 1st year (e.g., social, language, motor, attention skills). Motor skills, an understudied area, is also one of the earliest skills affected; although we are aware that early intervention is associated with the best outcomes, the median age of diagnosis remains 4 years. If we could detect signs of ASD earlier and more reliably, we could identify children who would benefit from behavioral therapies faster.

What are the goals of the study?

Our goal is to validate wearable-sensor methodology (wrist-worn accelerometers) for quantifying two endophenotypes: hyperactivity (HYP, an early marker of liability to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which is strongly comorbid with autism) and impairment in motor coordination (MOT). We expect to gain a comprehensive understanding of motor endophenotypes in infants and children as a launching point for future screening and early intervention studies in children at a high-risk for autism.

What will happen during the visit or online?

You and your child will visit Washington University up to two times when they are 18-39 months of age. Prior to visiting, parents will complete online questionnaires about family history and your child’s development. Families are compensated for their time. In-person activities include the children participating in tasks testing gross and fine motor skills. Following the in-person motor and social assessments, the child will be given an accelerometry wristband to wear at home for 48 hours, and a parent will need to record notes of their motor activity.

How will this help families?

If we could detect signs of ASD related to motor skills earlier and more reliably, we could identify children who would benefit from behavioral therapies faster. Earlier access to behavioral therapies for children diagnosed with autism can lead to faster improvements and better outcomes for their behavior.

Social interaction during early childhood is a critical component of development. This project explores these interactions during play among children with and without autism spectrum disorder to better understand how children learn to engage with their environment and the people around them. The results of this project may lend itself to improving early screening, diagnosis, and intervention processes for young children with autism spectrum disorder and their families.

What are the goals of the study?

The goal of this project is to explore the early visual experiences of children during social play with their parents and how these interactions may influence different aspects of their development, such as language and cognition.

What will happen during the visit or online?

You and your child will be asked to play with a set of toys for approximately 5 minutes while wearing head-mounted eye-trackers. Depending on your child’s age, your child will also be asked to complete: the ADOS-2 (a gold-standard autism diagnostic test; 12mo and older), an IQ test (12mo and older), a motor assessment (18mo or younger), and/or two vocabulary tests (30mo or older).

How will this help families?

Families will receive a free summary of their child’s assessment results (autism diagnosis, vocabulary, motor skills, and/or Q) along with an Amazon gift card, family passes to the Children’s Museum of Houston, and a gift-bundle (toys, books, crayons, T-shirt, etc). We hope this project will ultimately assist in improving early screening, diagnosis, and intervention processes for infants and toddlers that may have autism spectrum disorder.

While there have been large-scale genetic analyses of autism spectrum disorder, there have been little efforts to investigate this in Hispanics and Latina/Latino populations (henceforth Latinx), the largest minority population in the United States. Inclusion of under-represented populations in genetic studies is important both for scientific reasons and for equity. The genetic architecture of ASD is complex and ongoing efforts to decipher it have focused on both common and rare genetic variants and investigating whether the genetic architecture differs across ancestral populations is important in order to have informed care and risk factors for underrepresented groups.

What are the goals of the study?

The central purpose of this project is to collect genetic and phenotypic information about childhood psychiatric conditions, with the aim of finding links between core symptoms, cognitive ability, and underlying neurobiological mechanisms. To better understand and investigate the genetic risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in people through observation of its genetic architecture across ancestral populations. Specifically, we aim to further our understanding of ASD in Hispanic/Latinx populations, the largest minority population in the U.S. and an admixed population.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participating in the study typically requires two in-person visits, one for an autism evaluation and one for IQ testing and DNA Collection. The DNA Collection can either be a blood draw or saliva collection; we collect DNA from the person affected with ASD and two biological family members. Furthermore, there is a zoom interview between a clinician and parent for our children participants and online forms that must be filled out. Families will be compensated $100 and will receive a report of the assessments completed.

How will this help families?

Families will be able to receive a report of all assessments done and receive compensation. Receiving an appointment for an autism evaluation and updated reports can often take several months to years, while here it takes a couple of weeks. Our reports can be often used for school or to apply to additional services. Adding on, our coordinator speaks Spanish which can often aid families that don’t speak English and helps remove that barrier to care. Furthermore, this will help families in the future by investigating risk factors in the development of ASD which can help inform clinical care for diverse populations.