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.

My name is Molly, and I am a doctoral student at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology in New York. I am conducting my doctoral research on parental accommodation in ASD. If you have a child with ASD between the ages of 5 and 18, please consider participating in this quick 10-15 minute online study. I have a passion for working with individuals with ASD and have been involved in Autism-related research for the last 6 years. Participation in this research project will provide the scientific community with valuable information about ASD.

What are the goals of the study?

My name is Molly, and I am a doctoral student at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology in New York. I am conducting my doctoral research on parental accommodation in ASD. If you have a child with ASD between the ages of 5 and 18, please consider participating in this quick 10-15 minute online study. A $2 donation to the Autism Self Advocacy Network will be made in honor of your participation and you will be providing the scientific community with valuable information about ASD. This research project was reviewed and received an exempt determination by WCG IRB. Thanks in advance for your time and consideration. https://tinyurl.com/FARLabASD

What will happen during the visit or online?

You will be asked to complete questionnaires about your child’s symptoms, how their symptoms impact the relationships in your family, and the extent to which you are involved in assisting your child when they are experiencing symptoms.

How will this help families?

Research results will provide the scientific community with valuable information about ASD.

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.

Recent recognition of the co-occurrence of autism and gender diversity has led researchers to investigate the unique experiences and mental health of individuals at this intersection. Past research has indicated that autistic, gender diverse individuals experience poorer mental health compared to those who are either a gender minority, autistic, or those who belong to neither of these groups. Given the correlation between parent and child health, and recent reports from parents regarding increased support needs at this intersection, it is important to address the health and unique needs of parents among this population. This cross-sectional, survey-based study aims to investigate parent-reported stress and mental health of parents whose adolescents are autistic and gender diverse, in comparison to those who belong to only one of these minority groups (gender diverse or autistic) or neither group. Additionally, the study will examine how parental perceived social support, as well as parent-reported autism characteristics and quality of life in their children, may be associated with parental stress and mental health in parents of autistic, gender diverse adolescents. The findings from this study will improve understanding of the mental health and stress of parents whose adolescents are autistic and/or gender diverse, along with what factors are associated with their well-being. These findings have the potential to inform future work testing supports addressing the needs of this sub-population.

What are the goals of the study?

The goal is to address gaps in the literature related to parents of autistic, gender diverse adolescents. I hope to learn about parental stress and mental health in groups that have not previously been thoroughly explored (parents of gender diverse adolescents and parents of autistic, gender diverse adolescents). I hope to identify factors associated with mental health and stress among these parents that can inform future research and practices.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Participants will fill out an online eligibility survey (aprox. 5 min long). If eligible, they will receive an email with a link to the online study survey. This is a 30-45 min survey in which participants answer questions related to themself and their adolescent. Upon completion of the survey, they will be emailed a $15 Amazon gift card.

How will this help families?

This project will contribute to our understanding of parent mental health and possible risk/protective factors among parents of adolescents in general and among specific at-risk populations. Understanding parent mental health and stress among families in these understudied subgroups can help drive future research around supports for families of gender diverse autistic youth, with the potential to improve quality of life of both parents and autistic adolescents.

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 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).

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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.

Six-to-ten year old children with autism spectrum disorders are invited to participate in a fun study, which involves wearing an actigraphy watch for two weeks (to estimate the quality and other characteristics of the child’s sleep) and participation in one MRI session at SDSU Imaging Center. Both children and parents are asked to keep sleep diaries for the two weeks when the child is wearing the actigraphy watch. Finally, children are asked to take part in a brief cognitive testing session. The study aims to understand the links between sleep (problems) and brain development in children with autism.

What are the goals of the study?

This study aims to understand potential mechanisms underlying sleep disturbances in autism.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Children will be asked to wear an actigraphy watch for two weeks, keep sleep diaries, take part in one MRI scan, and complete a brief behavioral assessment session.

How will this help families?

Sleep problems affect 50-80% of individuals with autism and can have cascading effects on development, everyday function, and quality of life. However, the mechanisms underlying sleep disturbances in ASD are not understood. A better insight into the potential mechanisms of sleep disturbances in autism may ultimately help with developing new treatments targeting sleep in children with autism.

The purpose of this study is to understand the healthcare experiences of both non-autistic and autistic adults as well as their related needs. Participants that support adult family members at healthcare appointments will have the option to answer additional questions.

What are the goals of the study?

To improve education to reduce healthcare disparity and to offer guidance on universal design as well as accessibility.

What will happen during the visit or online?

Take an online survey

How will this help families?

Improve education for healthcare professionals and office workers