Compared to peers, children on the autism spectrum have difficulty understanding, expressing, and regulating emotions, all of which impact their social functioning. A new study at Drexel University aims to identify emotional responses in children with autism and to guide future intervention studies. This study is open to children ages 2-4 both with and without autism. Children will complete a series of assessments. We will observe children’s behavior and track their eye gaze. An electroencephalogram (EEG) cap will be worn by the children to measure their brain activity during the tasks. Benefits include an evaluation of your child’s cognitive and social skills at no cost to you and compensation of $60 for your time.
Children aged 3 to 5 years are invited to participate in a study looking at flexible thinking skills in children with and without autism and children. We will also look at these skills in children with and without exposure to a second language. This will help us understand early signs of difficulties with flexible thinking. We are recruiting children for a one-time, 1-2 hour, visit to the AJ Drexel Autism Institute (3020 Market St, Philadelphia, PA). Families will receive an evaluation of your child’s cognitive skills at no cost to you. You will receive $25 compensation for your time.
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.
Communication in Autism Parent Coaching Program
Approximately 25% of children with ASD do not use language to communicate, and children with ASD who struggle to communicate are more at risk to show challenging behaviors. The Communication in Autism Parent Coaching Program developed at the AJ Drexel Autism Institute uses evidence-based strategies to teach communication and language to children with ASD. Participation in this study includes a no-cost evaluation of your child’s communication and other functional skills, as well as the opportunity to receive the Communication in Autism Parent Coaching Program at no cost. If you have a child with ASD who has minimal or no verbal communication between 24 and 72 months, you might be eligible to participate in the study. Sessions may be completed in-person, by telehealth or a combination. Participants will be compensated for their time.
Examining Preverbal Social Learning Processes in Minimally Verbal Children with Autism
Minimally verbal children with autism are often considered to be “untestable”, resulting in an underestimation of their potential, exclusion from intervention trials, and a poor foundation for developing targeted interventions. In order to optimize and customize interventions so that they are beneficial to minimally verbal children with autism, a fine-grained characterization of their learning profile is needed, particularly in the social-cognitive and social-motivational abilities that are foundational to language. This study addresses this gap by examining strengths and needs of minimally verbal children with ASD using a novel experimental battery, called Measurement of Preverbal Social Learning (MOPSL). The MOPSL is designed to provide a fine-grained measurement of social motivational and social cognitive prerequisites for language using cutting-edge eye-tracking and pupillometry techniques. These allow to measure attentional and emotional responses to stimuli
using a non-invasive infra-red technology to generate indices of attention engagement and emotional arousal. Additionally, understanding strengths and needs in abilities foundational to verbal development is a critical step to enable delivery of targeted interventions for the neglected population of minimally verbal children with autism, thus promoting the overall rate of optimal intervention outcomes, and improving wellbeing across the autism spectrum of severity.
Development of the M-CHAT-S (School Age Screener for Autism Risk)
We are developing and testing a screening questionnaire for ASD risk for young school age children (age 4 to 8 years) and are looking for participants to assist with its development. This study is for parents of children ages 4-8 (including children on the spectrum, children with other delays or learning difficulties, and children with typical development) and educators (teachers, special education teachers, intervention providers) with at least 5 years of experience working with students on the autism spectrum. Participants will either complete an interview or focus group or pilot test the questionnaire. Participants in the interview will give feedback on potential screener items over phone or Zoom. For pilot testing, participants will be asked to complete the newly developed questionnaire and two to three other questionnaires online - Some may be asked to complete again, 1-2 weeks later. Participation will take no more than 60-90 minutes and you will be compensated for your time.
Studies led by faculty and staff affiliated with the Autism Institute:
Assessment of Brain Function during Social Interaction among Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
A new study at Drexel University aims to explore brain function of young children (ages 18 to 42 months) during social interactions. Your child will wear neuroimaging sensors on a headband, which will be used to capture brain activity while playing and watching some brief videos. The study is enrolling typically developing children as well as children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Families will receive $100 for participation in the study that includes zoom session and site visit.