Autism Studies

Family Outcomes and Autism Spectrum Disorder


PURPOSE: To: 1) examine the well-being and marital quality of parents of children with autism (or autism spectrum disorder) and 2) examine family factors that impact the well-being of children with autism.

WHO: We are looking for parents of children aged 5 to 12 years with autism. Both spouses participate in the study.

WHAT: The study involves a 2-hour session at the Waisman Center or your home to complete questionnaires. We will also videotape you and your spouse having a conversation.  You and your spouse will then complete a 14-day diary in which you answer questions about your day (takes 5-10 mins per day). You and your spouse will each be paid $125.

For more information, please contact the Hartley Lab at 608.262.8860 or, (

Principal Investigator: Sigan Hartley, PhD
Keywords: Autism, Parents, Marital Quality

Feeding Intervention Study for Children with Autism and Feeding Challenges


You may qualify for an intervention research study for families with children with autism spectrum disorders and feeding challenges.  We are piloting an intervention for children (ages 2 to 7 years) with autism that would attempt to address your child’s specific feeding challenges primarily in your home environment. Your child will receive direct intervention and you as a primary caregiver would participate in training sessions and delivering the intervention in your home for approximately 5 to 7 hours per week over six months. Two to three assessment session will also occur at the Waisman Center. In appreciation, you will receive a $100 for completing the research study. If you withdraw from the study, you will receive $50.00.  If you are interested please contact Karla Ausderau at University of Wisconsin-Madison at or 608-262-0653.

Eligibility Criteria:  
* Inclusion criteria: Parents of a child, ages 2-7 years, with a current autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis and feeding problems. Parent must live in the same household with the child at least 50% of the time, speak English, and live in Wisconsin.  
* Exclusion criteria: If the child that is the focus of the study has an associated condition (e.g., tuberous sclerosis, fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome; blindness; deafness, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injury, brain malformation) the family may be excluded. 

PI: Karla Ausderau, PhD
Keywords: Autism

The Effects of Video Game Learning on the Brain in Adolescents with Autism


The Motor and Brain Development Lab at the Waisman Center is recruiting high-functioning adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (14-17 years old) from the Madison, WI area for a research study that looks at brain and behavior changes after learning skills from playing video games.

  • Participants will complete a 1.5-2.5 hour intake assessment and a 1-hour MRI brain scan, while parents answer questions about their child. The intake assessment will include an abbreviated IQ assessment, an autism diagnostic assessment (asking questions and doing activities with books and pictures), and a standardized motor assessment (asking your child to do activities like drawing, playing with balls, hopping, sorting objects, doing sit ups, and balancing).
  • Then, participants will come to the Waisman Center for six weeks to play Wii and Kinect video games.
  • After the six weeks, participants will complete a 1-hour end-of-study assessment and another 1-hour MRI brain scan.
  • Families will be compensated $50/ MRI scan and $10/hour for their participation (up to $315). 

Interested in helping us better understand video game learning and brain changes in autism? Contact Brittany Travers at (608) 263-0282 or for more information.

PI: Brittany Travers, PhD
Keywords: Motor Development, Autism, Brain Imaging