tags: Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities

Autism Research and Engagement Core News

Four MCDD team members are consultants to Simons Powering Autism Research (SPARK), the largest study of autism spectrum disorder. Those members include Marina Sarris, MA, web content administrator for the MCDD’s Autism Research and Engagement Core; Cheryl Cohen, MS, director of online community programs; Jaimie Toroney, MHS, research manager; and J. Kiely Law, MD, MPH, research director.

The SPARK Research Match Team received almost two dozen new applications from researchers during the third quarter. The applications came from researchers who wish to contact SPARK participants to see if they want to take part in their autism studies. More than a dozen Research Match studies have been published in scientific and medical journals in 2022.

Dr. Law co-authored a new study about young research participants who are reaching adulthood. The study, “Re-Consenting Pediatric Research Participants as Legal Adulthood Approaches: Lessons from the SPARK Autism Study,” was published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders in November 2022.

Sarris recently published several articles on the SPARK website. Her article “When Does Autism Begin?” focuses on emerging ideas about regression and autism. Another article, “The Long, Long Road to Autism Diagnosis,” examines the experience of a family who waited years for autism diagnoses for their children. The article “Half My Childhood is Gone: Growing Up with Autism and Epilepsy” discusses how diagnoses of autism and epilepsy affect people throughout their childhood.

The Autism Research and Engagement Core team hosted the webinar, “Developmental Regression in Autism Spectrum Disorder,” with Robin Kochel, PhD, speaking on the topic of regression and autism. Dr. Kochel is a research psychologist at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital. The Core team also recently hosted the webinar, “Surveying the Landscape of Autism Intervention Practices Across the U.S.,” presented by Matthew Lerner, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Stony Brook University. Another webinar, “Emotional Health in Autistic Adults and Building Better Supports,” was presented by Katie Gotham, PhD, an assistant professor from the Rowan University psychology department.

Cohen led a successful SPARK Community Advisory Council (CAC) meeting in October. The purpose of the CAC is to ensure the voices of the autism community are reflected in SPARK’s work. Twenty-one new member applications for this quarter were received.