Autism Spectrum Disorder Center | Research and Innovation

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An overview of ASD research at Boston Children’s

Boston Children’s Autism Spectrum Center and Translational Neuroscience Center are at the forefront of autism research. We are conducting a variety of studies of autism and related genetic disorders, ranging from clinical drug trials to laboratory studies seeking a better way to diagnose ASD and to uncover the treatments of tomorrow. ASD patient with doctor

Our basic understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is changing rapidly. Studies in the laboratories at Boston Children’s—from cellular studies to electroencephalogram (EEG) readings of children’s brains—support the idea that autism is caused by altered patterns of brain connections. In other words, the research supports the feeling many families have that the brains of children with ASD are “wired differently.” The difference may be there at birth but may only start to become evident over time as children begin to interact with their environment.

We do know that there are many biological paths to ASD. Many different genetic changes have been connected with ASD. We’re just at the beginning of finding these changes and understanding how they lead to autism—and learning more every day.

EEG cap
EEG patterns may provide subtle early cues to ASD at as early as 6 months of age.

We are also looking at a variety of “biomarkers” that could detect ASD very early—even during infancy. From blood tests to EEG patterns, these potentially could allow children to be diagnosed and treated much earlier than they are today.

Finally, we do clinical studies to understand which interventions work best for children with ASD, including new medications emerging from the laboratory work that have the potential to treat the core symptoms of ASD, rather than just manage behaviors.

Recent ASD Research Highlights

For more information, click on the links below. Many of our studies are actively looking for participants!

Join Our Research Registry

If you would like to hear about autism-related studies for which your child or children may be eligible, we welcome you to add your family's information to our Research Participant Registry. Doing so does not obligate you to participate in a study; it simply allows us to notify you of studies you may be eligible for. Our research teams will be happy to answer any questions and find a convenient time for you and your child to participate.

Click for a full description and a link to register. You can also contact our Recruitment Associate at 617-355-0400, or email brainworks@childrens.harvard.edu.


*NOTES ON THE REGISTRATION FORM:

 

This form is used for a wide range of research studies besides ASD. To receive information specifically on ASD research, please indicate “Autism Spectrum Disorder” in the field that asks for “Diagnosis/any other relevant history that you think we may need to know".

 

We also welcome typically developing children to be part of comparison groups in our studies. If you would like to include your child who is typically developing, please use the same field and indicate "None" for your child.


We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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