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Modifiable Autism Risk Factors Research Program

Program Leader: Diana Schendel, Ph.D.

Faculty: Kristen Lyall, Sc.D.

 

MRF researchers carry out different kinds of studies to better understand autism. The goal is to learn more about different factors linked to autism across the lifespan. For example, studies may address the impact of being born too soon or having different kinds of health problems through life, and how those outcomes come about. Studies also examine factors that may influence brain development and other biologic pathways involved in early development to learn more about underlying mechanisms so that, ultimately, better treatments and supports can be developed. In other words, MRF researchers ask “why” and “how” questions. Answers to those questions help families and communities find the best ways to support persons on the spectrum.

So, MRF researchers look for risk and protective factors that are modifiable (able to be changed) and linked to outcomes in autistic persons in order to find ways to improve the lives of persons on the spectrum and their families.

To do this, MRF researchers look at many different factors, in different kinds of studies, with partners in the US and around the world

Research Topic

Research Topics


MRF researchers study many different risk and protective factors linked to development and life course outcomes in autism to better understand pathways in development.

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Research Approaches

Research Approaches


MRF researchers use different types of studies for different purposes.

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Ongoing Projects

Ongoing Projects


MRF researchers are involved in many ongoing projects.

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Collaborations

Collaborations


MRF researchers collaborate with a wide network of leading researchers in the US and worldwide.

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What do we mean by "modifiable?"

  • "Modifiable" means things that may be changed – by individuals or by society - and if they were changed then improvements in functioning or quality of life may be possible.


  • What do we mean by “risk factors?”

  • A “risk factor” is something that increases the chance for an outcome to occur. For example, it could be something in the environment (like high levels of air pollution) or an illness (like rubella) that is linked to a higher chance for a particular outcome, like a baby being born too soon. On the flip side, we also talk about “protective factors” which are things that are linked to a lower chance for an outcome, like taking folic acid around the beginning of pregnancy lowers the chance a baby will have serious birth defects.

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