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The Impact of COVID-19 on Families with a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Focus on Behavioral Inflexibility, Anxiety and Quality of Life

ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, characterized by social communication and restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests. Behavioral inflexibility (BI) is thought to underlie a number of behaviors in ASD and refers to rigid and inflexible patterns of behavior that contrast with the need to be flexible, open to change, and amenable during situations that are unpredictable. The COVID-19 pandemic represents a unique challenge for individuals with ASD and their families due to the rapidly changing nature of guidelines and lack of daily structure. This study will follow-up families who participated in a large NICHD-R01 study characterizing BI to understand their experiences during this time. First, each parent will be sent a link to an online survey that includes a few short surveys regarding their child’s behavior. Then, parents will be invited to complete a phone interview during which we will ask them questions about frequencies of BI in their children. Finally, parents of adolescents with ASD will be invited to complete a virtual focus group using a WebEx to help increase our understanding of this area. If you are interested, please contact us at Harroplab@med.unc.edu.


Anxiety in Autism: Notable role of Gender, Sex, & Temporality (AANGST)

Anxiety is common in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The purpose of this study is to compare how gender may impact the experience of anxiety among adolescents who either have or do not have ASD. The information we learn by doing this may help us to develop targeted assessments and treatments for mood disorders, such as anxiety, in adolescents. We are recruiting participants between the ages of 12-17 to join our study and complete different tasks, such as developmental assessments, eye tracking paradigms, stress tests, and follow-up questionnaires via text messaging. Caregivers will also be asked to complete a few brief surveys during the study. If you are interested, please contact us at Harroplab@med.unc.edu.


Executive Functioning and Inflexibility in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Cross-Syndrome Study

ADHD is a common comorbidity in ASD and there is a lot of overlap between the two conditions. In this study, we will be extending some of our measures and questionnaires from Project BIDD to individuals with a diagnosis of ADHD. Funded through a NC TraCS Pilot 2k, we will see 40 individuals (3 to 17) with a diagnosis of ASD. They will complete a series of iPad based measures of executive functioning. A smaller group will also complete EEG measures of executive functioning. We are still recruiting for this study. If you are interested, please contact us at Harroplab@med.unc.edu.

 


Sex and Gender in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Bio-Behavioral Study

As ASD is considered a male dominant disorder, little is known about the presentation and trajectories of females. Funded through a CTSA Career Development Award (PI: Harrop), we are examining the interplay between biological sex and gender in ASD through a combination of behavioral and electrophysiological methods. This study is recruiting males and females with and without a diagnosis of ASD ages 2 to 8 to visit our lab. They will complete a series of EEG and eye tracking tasks to understand social and non-social attention and motivation and behavioral measures. Parents will also be part of the study – we will ask them a series of questions about their child’s developmental history, their diagnostic experiences, and their interests and strengths. We are currently recruiting for this study. If you are interested, please click this link and take a short survey:  https://unc.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9ZYa5kUUSpeZtNH


Understanding the Research Priorities and Experiences of Underrepresented Genders in Autism

The type of autism research being funded may not always be the type of research that the autism community is interested in. Recent studies have spoken to autistic adults and other stakeholders about their priorities, but due to the high ratio of males diagnosed with autism, the voices of females and other underrepresented genders (such as nonbinary people) are not always adequately present. In this study, we are surveying autistic adults and parents of autistic children on their research priorities. Further, we are interviewing autistic women, nonbinary people, and parents of autistic girls on their experiences and priorities in order to understand their perspectives. If you are interested, please contact us at Harroplab@med.unc.edu with the subject line “GEAR study”.


Toddler Remote Assessment of Virtual Eye Tracking and Language (TRAVEL) Study

The purpose of this study, led by graduate student Jessie Goldblum for her dissertation research, is to test the effectiveness of a new, at-home computer program (the TRAVEL Task) that measures language and attention in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We hope to develop this program so that families unable to travel to clinics will be able to access diagnostic services for their children with autism in the comfort of their own homes. This study is recruiting males and females with a diagnosis of ASD ages 2 to 3. Participating children will view several computer videos at home led by the study team from a remote location (the Harrop Lab), including a story-time task and the TRAVEL Task. Caregivers will also be a part of the study – we will ask them a series of questions about their child’s health and development. We are currently recruiting for this study. If you are interested, please contact jessgold@unc.edu.


Completed Research Studies