Autism Spectrum Disorder, by definition, is a complex and varied condition, and no one person’s autism is just like another’s. In research, we call this “heterogeneity”- the wide variation in behavior, genetics, cognition, and brain structure that combine to contribute to ASD.
At The Center for Autism Research, we gather experts from diverse backgrounds to look at the various aspects of autism spectrum disorder. Using this multidisciplinary approach, we are able to draw connections that give us a more complete understanding of the causes of autism, how autism “works” in all its various forms and how to develop treatments and therapies that we can tailor to a person’s specific needs across their lifetime.
Additionally, we are committed to making sure our research discoveries reach families and practitioners quickly so that families can benefit from immediately.
Areas of Research
Brain Structure and Function
CAR researchers use brain imaging and carefully designed neuropsychological assessments to understand how the size and shape of a person’s brain relates to ASD as well as differences in brain circuitry and connections. These discoveries will aid in early diagnosis of ASD and in developing new treatment targets.Read more
Transition to Adulthood
Through our partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, CAR is conducting research focused on the transition to adulthood, quality of life, and predictors of success. By integrating our autism program across CHOP and Penn we can seamlessly study individuals from birth well into old age, to understand the needs of individuals with ASD at different ages, and differences in their life course.Read more
Intervention Research & Clinical Trials
Our intervention program of research has two components: (1) to develop and test novel treatments based on new findings in genetics and neuroscience; and (2) to short the time between development of effective behavioral treatments and successful implementation of these interventions at scale in communities.Read more
Certain medical and behavioral conditions are prevalent among people diagnosed with ASD, including anxiety, ADHD, gastrointestinal disorders, selective eating, and sleep difficulties, among others. CAR researchers are working to understand why this is the case and how best to treat these co-occurring conditions in patients with autism.Read more
Early Childhood Development
Understanding the developmental origins of ASD is crucial to improving early detection and to developing better treatments. We have many ongoing studies in this program, including the Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS); studies designed to improve instruments for early detection; and studies of genetics and brain development.Read more