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
Key words: Autism, Parents, Marital Quality

Parents of Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder


We are recruiting families for an education and support program for parents of adolescents with ASD between the ages of 15 and 18. Parents will attend 8 weekly group meetings with other families to receive information on autism across the life course, transition planning, legal issues, and other topics. Families will also be able to discuss and problem-solve specific concerns they may have related to their child. The study will consist of initial and exit interviews, parent sessions, and a social skills group for teens.

To participate, the teenager with ASD needs to live at home and currently be enrolled in high school. Both parents would need to be able to participate.

To find out more, please contact Leann Smith DaWalt, PhD at 608.890.1390 or

PI: Leann Smith DaWalt, PhD
Key words: 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
Keywords: Motor Development, Autism, Brain Imaging

Working Together: Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder


We are looking for families to participate in a study about programming for young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  The study has two goals:  1) promote the development of advocacy and social skills in young adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD),  2) enable families to support their adult children in achieving educational and employment goals.

To participate, individuals with ASD must meet the following criteria

  • the adult must provide ASD diagnosis documentation (either from a health care or educational professional)
  • the adult with ASD has not been diagnosed with an intellectual disability
  • the adult must be 18-30 years old
  • the adult must live at home with his or her parent(s)
  • the adult works less than 10 hours per week
  • the adult spends less than 10 hours a week in degree-seeking post-secondary education program

To find out more, please contact Renee Makuch at the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (608) 262-4717 or

PI: Leann Smith DaWalt, PhD
Keywords: Autism, Family Studies