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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 invite parents, people on the autism spectrum, physicians, childcare providers and others to participate in research studies to 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

Communication in Autism Parent Coaching Program

The goal of this study is to test a new program called ‘Communication in Autism Parent Coaching Program’. The program aims to teach parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder how to build their children’s language and communication skills.

Lighting and Repetitive Behavior Study

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 years 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.

Electronic Media Viewing Study

How does removing television and other screen media viewing affect young children with autism? Children ages 18 months-42 months diagnosed with ASD are eligible for this study. Children will be enrolled for 6 months, participate in genetic testing, visit Drexel for child assessment twice, and participate in weekly visits to support a screen-free environment. Participants will receive $100 upon completion of the study.

For people on the autism spectrum

Trauma and Autism Study

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. 

Social Cognition Study

The goal of the social cognition study is to learn how people understand moving shapes, including how thoughts, feelings, and experiences influence what people see. Adolescents and adults ages 16-35 years, with and without autism are eligible for this study. Volunteers will answer questions, watch videos of moving shapes, and complete tasks on a computer at the Autism Institute in Philadelphia, PA or in the Mobile Assessment Unit. All tasks will take about four hours. You can complete all tasks during one four-hour visit or two shorter visits. Participants will receive up to $20 for their time.

For physicians

Early Detection Study

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). 

Mobilizing Community Systems Study

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

Usual Care for Autism Survey

Drexel University is conducting a research study to learn more about the practices that are currently being used by community providers for older youth with ASD. You may be eligible to participate in our research study if you currently teach or provide non-pharmacological treatment to youth with ASD between the ages of 7-22 years old, or if you are a psychologist, behavior therapist, doctor, nurse or nurse practitioner, occupational or physical therapist, counselor, marriage & family therapist, social Worker, speech-language provider or therapist, or teacher, educator, aide or other school professional who works directly with youth with ASD. Participants will receive $40 upon completion of the study.

Childhood Adversity and Autism Study  

To enhance our knowledge of the adversities experienced by youth and young adults with autism, the Childhood Adversity and Autism Study seeks 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. 

Autism Screening in Child Care Centers study 

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 autism in very young children, especially in underserved communities.The CURE Autism Screening in Child Care Centers study will demonstrate the feasibility of toddler autism 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.