Learn more about our research studies

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Current Studies

Research on Sensory Intervention in Boys with Autism

What’s the study about?

Greater than 80% of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience sensory differences that make it difficult for them to fully participate in meaningful everyday activities. In this research study, we will use MRI and behavioral methods to assess how sensory interventions might change sensory brain structures, allowing us to better predict which sensory interventions might work best for whom.

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What is the purpose of the study?

The purpose of this study is to learn more about how sensory interventions might improve the
way the brains of boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) use sensory information. Forty boys 6-8
years of age who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by a physician,
psychologist, neurologist, or psychiatrist will be recruited to participate in this study.

What will happen in the study?

Participants in the study will attend two in-person visits with our research team at the University of Florida. The first visit will occur when you enroll in the study, and the second visit will occur approximately 18-20 weeks later. During these visits, participants will complete behavioral assessments of sensory and motor functions and participate in one research magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Two weeks after the first visit, participants will be randomly assigned to the intervention or waitlist control. Children in the intervention will receive the occupational therapy research intervention twice a week for 16 weeks at the University of Florida. Children in the control group will not receive the intervention during the 16 weeks. At the end of the 16-week period, the children who were in the control group will have the opportunity to receive the research occupational therapy intervention. The intervention will be administered by a licensed Occupational Therapist and will include playing on swings, scooter boards, climbing equipment, and more. The 16-week sensory intervention may improve your child’s communication, reciprocal social interactions, repetitive behaviors, and/or restricted interests. As a thank you for participating, families will receive up to $220.

Help researchers understand and learn more about non-pharmacological interventions for children with ASD and how their brains use sensory information. Click the link to answer a few questions to find out if your child might be eligible!