Nelson Laboratory | Autism Research

Autism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials

Brief Description
The aim of the consortium is to develop reliable and objective measurements of social function and communication in people with autism. Using EEG to measure brain function, eye tracking technology to measure visual attention, and automated recording techniques to assess behavior and speech, children will be monitored over a six-month period. In addition to the behavioral measures and biomarker data, this community resource will also include DNA samples from children with ASD and their parents for use in future genetic studies. The goal is to create a set of measures that can be used in clinical trials to determine which treatments are best for which patients and who will benefit from a particular treatment. The ultimate goal is to validate a set of tools that will enable clinicians to objectively measure and predict how children with ASD respond to treatment.

Participation Details
Caregivers will complete a screening phone call and questionnaires about their child. Children will complete in-person study visits at Boston Children’s Hospital over a 6 month period. The study is made up of 3 pairs of visits. Caregivers would be coming into the lab a total of 6 times over the course of 6 months. Scheduling is flexible including weekends.

Eligibility for Participation
We are currently recruiting both typically developing children and children with a diagnosis of ASD.

Research Contact: To learn more about the study or to participate, please call us at 857-218-3182 or email our team at abc-ct@childrens.harvard.edu


Infant Screening Project

Brief Description
The main goal of this study is to map early development and identify infants at risk for developing an Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or language and communication difficulties. By screening early and learning more about neural and behavioral functioning, we aim to improve techniques for early identification and intervention.

Eligibility for Participation

  • Families who have a new baby or are expecting
  • Families who have a new baby or are expecting and have an older child that has been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Participation Details
This study involves five visits to the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience lasting 3-4 hours each. Visits will be scheduled for: 3, 12, 18, 24, and 36 months (outcome visit). These visits can be scheduled at your convenience during the day or the weekend. All sessions are held at our lab in the Longwood Medical Area.

Research Contact: ISP@childrens.harvard.edu

Full Description
The Infant Screening Project is a collaborative project between Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston University that studies the development of language and social behavior in babies. The purpose of this study is to map early development and identify infants at risk for developing an Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or language and communication difficulties. By screening early to evaluate potential biological identifiers related to social ability and to learn more about neural and behavioral functioning, we aim to improve techniques for early identification and intervention. In order to thoroughly investigate the questions we are asking we’ll be using a variety of methods including; clinical, behavioral, electrophysiological (EEG/ERP) assessments for both children with autism and typical controls. Parents will also be asked to fill out a variety of questionnaires over the four visits in order to collect data about their child’s development.