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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

Connecting the Dots

This study aims to explore how screening and surveillance helps children with autism in the long run. Results from this study will empower providers with evidence-based procedures to detect ASD, optimize care for patients, and improve long-term outcomes. If you're the parent of a toddler, please consider taking the flyer to your child's pediatric provider and encouraging them to join the study. We are currently enrolling primary care providers who see toddlers for well child visits within a 60-minute drive of Drexel University/30th Street Station.

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

Childhood Adversity and Autism Study

This study will involve comprehensive psychosocial evaluations of verbally fluent teens and young adults (12-22 years) with ASD. Participants do not need to have experienced a traumatic event to be eligible for the study. Rather we are very interested in understanding how a wide range of adversities impact individuals with ASD. Participation in the study involves parents and their teen or young adult children with ASD completing some questionnaires and also participating in a 5-hour psychosocial evaluation, with a 1-hour feedback session, approximately 3-4 weeks later. The evaluation involves some assessments of reasoning and social ability and also an interview that will assess for past adversity and symptoms of traumatic stress and other stress-related disorders. All participants will receive a written report describing the results of the evaluation and providing treatment recommendations at their 3-4 week follow up session. Participants will also receive a $50 Amazon gift code for their time and effort.

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 primary care providers

Connecting the Dots

This study aims to explore how screening and surveillance helps children with autism in the long run. Results from this study will empower providers with evidence-based procedures to detect ASD, optimize care for patients, and improve long-term outcomes. We are currently enrolling primary care providers who see toddlers for well child visits within a 60-minute drive of Drexel University/30th Street Station.

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.

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