Autism Research and Engagement Core News

tags: Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities

Several MCDD Autism and Research Engagement Core team members are consultants to Simons Powering Autism Research (SPARK), a long-term study of autism spectrum disorder. 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.

On July 12, Sarris wrote an article that was published on SPARK’s website, “An Autistic Pianist and the Quest to Communicate.” The article showcases Milosz Gasior, a musician with unique communication needs. On July 18, Sarris wrote another article, “How Autistic Adults Are Changing What We Know About Them.” This article discusses the importance of SPARK’s Research Match which has enabled more studies to be conducted on adults with autism spectrum disorder. On September 18, SPARK published an article by Sarris, “What to Know About Toilet Training Your Child With Autism.”

SPARK Research Match, which matches researchers with people who want to participate in their autism studies, has launched more than 180 studies. New studies are being launched at the rate of one per week. The ability to recruit research participants from SPARK’s members has enabled many research studies throughout the country to meet their recruitment goals and successfully complete their studies.

The Autism and Research Engagement Core produced two SPARK Research Match summary reports in August 2023. The first report, “What Mental Health Therapies Work for Autistic Adults?” summarizes the results of a study that collected the opinions of autistic adults about their experiences with mental health services. The second report was published on August 22, “How Do Sleep and Some Medications Affect Heart Disease Risks in Autistic Adults?” This report presents the findings of researchers who studied the effects of sleep quality and the use of antipsychotic medication in relation to heart disease in autistic adults.