tags: Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities

Autism Research and Engagement Core News

Several MCDD Autism and Research Engagement team members are consultants to Simons Powering Autism Research (SPARK), the largest long-term study of autism spectrum disorder, with more than 300,000 participants across the country. Those members include Marina Sarris, MA, web content administrator; Cheryl Cohen, MS, director of online community programs; Alison R. Marvin, PhD, research manager; Jaimie Toroney, MHS, research manager; and J. Kiely Law, MD, MPH, research director.

Dr. Law and Toroney contributed to the SPARK Research Match, which matches researchers with people who want to participate in their autism studies. The program has launched more than 175 studies to date. Researchers using SPARK Research Match have published 39 peer-reviewed articles. For a list of those articles, as well as those that use SPARK’s data, see the SPARK Research Publications section on the SPARK website.

Dr. Law co-authored an article, “Using percentiles in the interpretation of Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System scores: Guidelines for autism,” which was published in Autism Research, the official journal of The International Society for Autism Research.

Sarris and Cohen have produced and contributed to articles, recorded webinars, and created research reports, which can be viewed in the Topics in Autism section of the SPARK website. The article, “Are Girls With Autism Hiding in Plain Sight?,” was published and recently revised by Sarris. Cohen helped redesign the SPARK website to make it easier for people to find information about autism, research and SPARK participants.

Sarris recently wrote an article, "What Should You Do If You Suspect Your Child Has Autism?," which helps people learn about getting an autism evaluation and diagnosis. Garland Jones, PhD, is a supervisory neuropsychologist at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger Institute. He hosted a webinar, "The Autism Evaluation: Expectations, Benefits, and Barriers," which can be viewed on the SPARK website.

Marvin serves as a member of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), which held a full committee meeting on January 18, 2023. The purpose of the IACC meeting was to discuss business, agency updates and issues related to autism spectrum disorder research and services activities. The meeting was held virtually and was open to the public.