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Getting Involved

The A.J. Drexel Autism Institute is the first research organization built around a public health science approach to understanding and addressing the challenges of autism spectrum disorders. We need you - parents, people on the autism spectrum, physicians, childcare providers and others - to participate in our research studies so that we can advance the base of knowledge we have on autism from early detection through transition to adulthood. Take a look at the studies below and contact us if you are interested in participating.

For parents with a child on the autism spectrum

How do fluorescent-based and LED-based lighting systems influence the level of repetitive behavior shown by young children with ASD? Children ages 6-10 with an autism diagnosis and history of repetitive behavior are eligible to participate in two sessions including a screening interview, assessments and observation under both lighting conditions. Participants will receive $50 for completing both sessions.

For people on the autism spectrum

Drexel University is seeking input from individuals with autism and caregivers of individuals with autism in order to better understand what kind of life events are experienced as traumatic by individuals with autism, and how they may express symptoms of trauma. Eligible participants will complete a 1-2 hour interview (in person, by phone, or by e-mail) in which they will be asked to discuss the sources and symptoms of extreme stress, adversity or trauma that they feel individuals with autism experience. Responses will be kept anonymous, and participants will receive a $25 Visa gift card for their participation. This study is also recruiting service providers - see "for service providers" below. 

Drexel University has a new study. The goal of this study is to learn how people understand moving shapes. This includes how thoughts, feelings, and experiences influence what people see. We are looking for adolescents and adults ages 16-35 years. Some people will have autism spectrum disorder. Some people will not have autism. Participation is voluntary. You will answer questions, watch videos of moving shapes, and complete tasks on a computer. You will complete all study tasks at the AJDAI in Philadelphia, PA or in the AJDAI Mobile Assessment Unit. All tasks will take about four hours. You can complete all tasks during one four-hour visit or two shorter visits. You will earn up to $20 for your time.

For physicians

The Early Detection Project examines the optimal schedule for routine autism screening, the integration of screening with surveillance and other strategies to detect autism. The study builds on Dr. Diana Robins’ innovative work on screening for autism using the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT). 

The Mobilizing Community Systems study is a collaboration among four universities and involves primary care training in ASD, universal screening using the Smart Early Screener for Autism and Communication Disorders, tracking of referrals and their uptake, and early intervention training, which are all supported by a web-based platform.

For service providers

To enhance our knowledge of the adversities experienced by youth and young adults with autism, the Childhood Adversity and Autism Study is seeking input from service providers, advocates and clinical researchers with expertise in autism and/or childhood adversity and trauma. Eligible participants will complete a 20-minute survey by email in which they will be asked to rate potential causes and outcomes of trauma in individuals with autism. Participants will receive a $15 Visa gift card for their participation. This study is also recruiting people on the spectrum and their caregivers - see "for people on the spectrum" above. 

Early detection of autism has historically relied on screening through a primary care physician, but childcare settings have tremendous potential for increasing early recognition of ASD in very young children, especially in underserved communities.The CURE Autism Screening in Child Care Centers study will demonstrate the feasibility of toddler ASD screening in childcare settings located in the Philadelphia Promise Zone.


There are additional studies not sponsored by the Drexel Autism Institute also looking for participants. Learn more.

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