Vanderbilt launches study of development in pre-teens with and without autism

Adolescence and puberty is a time of significant physical, psychological, hormonal, and social changes. These changes are challenging for all youth but especially so for youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). A large study being launched by Vanderbilt University Medical Center is one of the first to examine this critical period of development for youth with ASD.

“We are looking at development from both a biological and behavioral perspective,” said Blythe Corbett, Ph.D., associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Psychology and a Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigator, who is directing the study.

The study is funded by a 5-year grant in the amount of $2,348,293 from the National Institute of Mental Health.

“Puberty is a pivotal period in development that involves both opportunities and vulnerabilities,” Corbett said. “Our long-term aim is to understand the trajectory of adolescent development during puberty and to identify factors that can contribute to resilience and a healthy transition into adulthood.”

Boys and girls with and without ASD who are ages 10 to 12 are invited to take part in the study. Participants will be followed over four years.

Participants will be compensated $20 and will receive a research letter with test results per completed visit.

Participants will come to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for assessment. In the first year, participation includes psychological testing and exam, and social interaction and social evaluation. Follow-up assessments are once a year for a total time commitment of four years.

For information about taking part in the study, send an email to the SENSE Lab., or call 615-513-9562, or 615-322-4132.

Blythe A. Corbett, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology
SENSE Lab Principal Investigator