Research Opportunities

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Current Research Opportunities


Project Name:  Motor Skills and Physical Activity in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder


Dates:  Sessions can be scheduled at your convenience (daytime, evening, and weekend availability)


Project Description: 

Children with ASD ages 7-12 years will participate in a two-hour motor skill assessment, use an activity tracker for 7 days, and return for a brief (5-minute) follow-up session. Parents will be asked to complete questionnaires about their child’s motor skills, physical activity, social skills, and adaptive skills and complete daily logs of physical activity. Participants will be compensated $20 for participating.

Risks and Benefits:

Risks include fatigue and possible muscle soreness.

PI/Credentials: PI : Morgan Wright, M.S., TLLP; Jin Bo, Ph.D.

Contact Information: 

Morgan Wright,

Cost/Honorarium:  No cost or honorarium. Results of research will be sent to participants upon request after it is completed.

IRB or Ethics Review Approval:  UHSRC-FY18-19-280 – Approved by Eastern Michigan University

Project Name:  Workplace interactions between individuals with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities


Dates:  August 2019 – September 2019


Project Description: 

The participants (parents, caregivers, employers, or job support providers (aged 18+) of adults with IDD) are invited to complete an online survey investigating the interactions between coworkers with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The research team is trying to understand the different ways coworkers with and without IDD interact in order to determine if coworkers without disabilities treat individuals with IDD as friends and equals

Risks and Benefits:

There are no risks associated with this project. Benefits may include gaining a better understanding of possible interactions that may occur between an employee with IDD and their coworkers.

PI/Credentials: PI - Andrea Peterson, Master’s student in applied behavior analysis, other researcher – Dr. Marisa Fisher, PhD, BCBA-D

Contact Information: 

Dr. Marisa Fisher – Phone: 517-432-3926, Email:, Website:

Cost/Honorarium:  No cost or honorarium

IRB or Ethics Review Approval:  MSU Study ID: STUDY00001746 /

Project Name:  Evaluation of Melatonin Versus Behavioral Intervention in the Treatment of Sleep Disturbances in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder


Dates:  May 2019 to May 2020. Study will be renewed until 15 participants complete the study


Project Description: 

The proposed research study aims to evaluate the comparative effectiveness of melatonin and behavioral intervention as treatments for parent-defined, co-occurring sleep disturbances in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A two-factor split-plot experimental design will be employed. Participating families will be randomly assigned to one of three groups: bedtime fading with response cost (BFRC), melatonin, and placebo. A modified split-plot analysis of covariance will be applied to evaluate both conventional between-group estimates of treatment effects and time-series single-case estimates of treatment effects that are uncontaminated by within-group variation. Findings will be used to extend both the science and practice of melatonin and BFRC as parent-delivered treatment options for co-occurring sleep disturbances experienced by children diagnosed with ASD.

Risks and Benefits:

Please see page 5 of the parent consent form for details. Risks should be no greater than the discomfort already normally exposed to due to the child’s current problem sleep behavior. Benefits include the potential to decrease disruptive sleep behaviors and improve quality of life, as well as potentially lead to a better understanding of autism and sleep problem behaviors and better in-home management of disruptive sleep and related behaviors for other parents and their children.

PI/Credentials: Dr. Sela Sanberg, clinical psychology doctoral candidate in the Psychology Department, and Dr. Wayne Fuqua, professor in the Psychology Department

Contact Information: 

WMU HSIRB (269) 387-8293 and

Sela Sanberg may be reached at (917) 817-2280 and

Cost/Honorarium:  No cost, no honorarium. Research outcomes will be made available to participants at the end of the study.

IRB or Ethics Review Approval:  Project #18-04-30, approved by Western Michigan University (WMU) Human Subjects Institutional Review Board (HSIRB)

Project Name:  Lingo Lab


Dates:  May 2019—December 2019


Project Description: 

We are currently recruiting children with autism from 2 through 5 to take part in a study about word learning and attention in children on the spectrum. The goal is to better understand how to support the development of language and communication in these children. Children will completed play-based developmental assessments and 5-minute eye-tracking tasks (“movies”). Parents will complete written questionnaires.

Risks and Benefits (to families or scientific community):

Potential risks: Because families provide personal identifying information, there is the possibility of a breach of confidentiality. However, we do everything possible to ensure that no breach of confidentiality occurs. Potential benefits: Families of children with autism will be offered a written report of the findings from the evaluation, including information about their child’s language, cognitive, and social communication skills. 

PI/Credentials: Courtney E. Venker, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Assistant Professor in Communicative Sciences and Disorders at Michigan State University

Contact Information: 

Lab phone: 517-884-2259. Dr. Venker’s phone: 517-884-2259.

Lab email:

Dr. Venker’s email:

Lab website:

Cost/Honorarium:  Families will receive $20/hour for their participation. We cover mileage for families who live more than 60 miles away from our lab (1026 Red Cedar Rd., East Lansing, MI 48824). We offer a complimentary hotel stay to families who live more than 90 miles away. We will periodically send out newsletters to update families about the study and its findings.

IRB or Ethics Review Approval:  Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Michigan State University

Project Name:  The Early Hearing Study at MSU


Dates:  Enrolling eligible participants through 2020


Project Description: 

The Early Hearing Study is a Michigan State University research study about how young babies respond to sound.  We are interested in seeing babies who have a sibling diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental condition (such as Autism or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity disorder).

If you and your baby would like to join us, your participation would involve a one-time visit with a licensed audiologist at the Hearing Health Center (Sparrow Professional Building) in Lansing, MI, when you baby is 3-4 weeks old.  Your baby will listen to snap or click sounds, and we will ask you to complete some brief questionnaires. 

You and your baby may be eligible to participate if you are: 1)18 years or older, 2) have a child diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental condition (such as Autism Spectrum Disorder), and 3) recently gave birth (1-3 weeks ago) or are expecting soon.

PI/Credentials: PI Nicole Talge, PhD, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics; Research Director Melanie Adkins, MPH

Contact Information: 

For questions or more information about The Early Hearing Study at MSU

please email, call 517-884-2098

or complete a secure contact form

You can also visit the MSU Neurodevelopment and Health Research Group at 

Cost/Honorarium:  There is no cost to participate in this study  

Participants will receive a $100 e-gift card to

IRB or Ethics Review Approval:  Approved by Michigan State University Intuitional Review Board, Study ID LEGACY 15-669M

Project Name:  Music in Children and Families Study. Survey link can be found here:


Dates:  Current


Project Description:  To assess factors related to musical experiences, social development and emotional well-being in children with and without developmental, medical or mental health conditions. Children 6 months to 5 years of age with or without: Autism Spectrum Disorder; developmental or language delay; neuro developmental genetic syndrome; other health impairments may participate.

PI/Credentials: Miriam Lense, PhD

Contact Information:  615-873-0852;

Cost/Honorarium:  Upon completion of the survey, participants can enter a lottery to win (1/30 chance) a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card.

Project Name:  Parent Involvement and Expectation for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (PIE)


Project Description: 

A study is being conducted to learn about how parents think about their adolescents’ future life plans, and how these expectations relate to their involvement in education and treatment for their children.

Participation in the study includes:

   • Parents will be interviewed by a researcher from Michigan State University for about 1 hour.
   • The interview can be conducted in the family’s home or on Michigan State’s campus.
   • Results will be used to improve supports available to families as they help their child transition out of high school.
   • As a thank you, parents will be provided with a $20 Amazon gift card.


Contact Information:  Dr. Gloria Lee at (517) 432-3623 or 


                                     or Dr. Kristin Rispoli at (517) 432-9629 or

Project Name:  Parent Training Projects


Project Description: 

Parent Training Project I:  Parents in this study will video record themselves spending time with their child and will complete 10 hours of web-basedtraining.  Some parents will receive additional coaching with a behavior specialist.


Parent Training Project II:  Parents in this study will complete online surveys about requesting evidence-based services in their child's school. Then, parents will complete 8 hours of web-based training across a 6-week period.



Contact Information:  Lorena Giselbach at (765)285-5260 or


Project Name:  Quality of Life among Family Caregivers of Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities


Dates:  Present


Project Description:  You are cordially invited to participate in a research study exploring the quality of life among family caregivers of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The purpose of this study is to understand family caregivers’ well-beings in different aspects, as well as their coping strategies and social support, in terms of providing caregiving tasks to adults with IDD. 

Use this link to participate:


PI/Credentials: Dr. Connie Sung, Ph.D., CRC

                             Chien-chun Lin, MA, CRC


Contact Information:  Chien-Chun Lin, MA, CRC


Cost/Honorarium:  Upon completion, you will receive a $10 gift card for your time and effort.

Project Name:  Siblings Speak

Project Dates: Ongoing

Project Description:  We are currently looking for adolescents (age 13-17) who have a sibling with Autism (ASD, Asperger Syndrome, and PDD) and their mothers to participate in a research study looking at sibling relationships among adolescents and their siblings with Autism. Individuals with Autism do not need to participate. Participation involves one 2-hour visit to MSU followed by a short set of daily questions online for 16 days and saliva collection at home on 2 days.

PI/Credentials: PI : Amy K. Nuttall, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Child Development

                                    Department of Human Development and Family Studies

                                    Michigan State University

Contact Information:  MSU Family Stress Lab: 517-898-2206  




Cost/Honorarium:  Participants can earn up to $156 for participating!

Research Archives

Michigan State University, Dr. Carolyn Shivers - Play Based Intervention

Michigan State University - Adult Care Giver Research

Autism Research Lab - Internet-Based Parent Training Program

Ball State University - Web-Based Training


Research Opportunity Newsblast Archives

© 2014 Mid Michigan Autism Association

 P.O. Box 27462  Lansing  MI  48909

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