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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 of transition-age youth on the autism spectrum

The Transition Odyssey of Youth with Autism on the Road to Adulthood: Parent Interview

This new study will pilot test an interview for parents and guardians of young adults with autism about their experiences during the transition years. This study involves completing background information forms and talking to the research team by phone or through videoconference. We will ask about topics like the transition out of high school, services the youth received, and barriers to transition planning. You can participate in this study if you are the parent or legal guardian of a young adult with autism spectrum disorder. You must have a young adult who: 1) has been out of high school for between 2 and 6 years, 2) received special education services at some point during high school, and 3) needed help with transition in one or more domain (employment, health care, mental health care, postsecondary education). We are currently interested in talking to parents who speak English. Participants who complete the study will receive a $25 gift card of your choice (Target, Walmart, or Amazon) upon completion of background forms, and another $25 card upon completion of an interview if selected.

For individuals on the autism spectrum

Service Network Coordination and Social Capital Study

The transition to adulthood is a critical turning point in the life course when youth begin to take on adult roles and responsibilities. This study aims to learn about the resources and coordination among youth with autism and their team members during postsecondary transition. Involvement includes an hour-long interview that will help gather information about your transition and help researchers understand who supports you and your family during the transition process. Participants must have/had an IEP autism classification, have/had employment as an IEP transition goal, be enrolled in a secondary school beyond 4 years, and be 18 years of age or older. Participants will be paid $20 for participating in the study.

Using Network Science to Investigate Social Networks and Employment Support for Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum

How do social networks and pre-employment experiences shape the transition from high school for young adult on the autism spectrum? When a young adult is preparing for employment, they can rely on a network of supporters, including parents/guardians, family members, school staff and community people to help them gain employment. In our research study, we want to learn how young adults build social networks and collaborate with the people in their networks, as they prepare for employment post-high school.

To participant in our study, the young adult must have the following:

  • Autism classification
  • Be in their final year of high school or extended high school OR be within 3-12 months post-high school or extended high
  • 18 years old or older

If you are eligible and decide to participate in our study, we will ask you to complete virtual/online tasks, such as a survey, study forms, and/or an interview with us. The research tasks can take place whenever best fits your schedule, including morning, business or evening hours during the week or weekend. Your experiences will help us gather information about how social networks and employment shape transition for young adults on the spectrum. Participants will be paid for each task they complete in the study.

For parents with a child on the autism spectrum

Connecting the Dots - Down Syndrome Study

Children with Down syndrome are invited to participate in a study on early intervention outcomes at Drexel University. Children will complete a developmental evaluation and families will receive a report detailing their child’s abilities.  Afterwards, children will be randomized into either six months of play-based intervention or treatment as usual. After six months, all children will have another evaluation. Family benefits are $50 per evaluation as well as recommendations and valuable information about your child’s functioning. Children must be between the ages of 12 and 50.99 months to participate.

Addressing the Unmet Needs of Young Children with Autism and Their Working Families

A new study at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute at Drexel University is focusing on how children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) learn when using an evidence-based teaching approach called the Group-Early Start Denver Model. Researchers are partnering with So Love Autistic Center to show that early intervention provided at daycare can improve child outcomes. The child will receive ~15 hours/week of intervention for six months at no additional cost. Children between 2-4 years old are eligible to participate.This study is funded in part by funds raised through the Eagles Autism Challenge.

The Care of Autistic Pediatric Patients in the Emergency Department: Parent/Legal Guardian and Clinician Perspectives

A new study aims to explore the thoughts and experiences of parents/clinicians regarding the care of autistic children who enter the Emergency Department. Participants will be asked to describe what strategies they have employed or believe should be employed in the Emergency Department to manage behavioral problems, improve communication and assess symptoms. Parents/legal guardians of minor children with autism between the ages of 3 to 13 who had a visit to the Emergency Department within the last 12 months are eligible to participate. Confidential, hour-long interviews will be held by teleconference or in person.

Improving Child-Treatment Fit in Autism Early Intervention Study

The goal of this study is to understand how to adapt teaching techniques to each child's way of learning. The study is open to parents of children ages 24-36 months who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Researchers will provide children with 10, 1-hour teaching sessions per week for three months to address their learning needs at no cost.

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.

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.