Marquette Autism Project (MAP)

Director - Dr. Amy Vaughan Van Hecke


The Research

What is MAP? The Marquette Autism Project (MAP) is a multi-faceted research program dedicated to understanding the social and neural development of children with and without autism. Several studies are currently being conducted as part of MAP. These include:

The Marquette PEERS Study

The Marquette PEERS Study

This study aims to understand how teenagers and young adults with autism spectrum disorder and their parents are affected by social skills therapy, the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills, or PEERS. PEERS is an evidence-based, manualized, 14-week (16 weeks for young adults), outpatient treatment program developed at the University of California at Los Angeles. Dr. Van Hecke is certified by UCLA to provide the PEERS program at Marquette University. PEERS study groups usually begin every January and August (subject to staffing capabilities), and are provided at no charge to research participants. Free parking is available at Marquette University.

Who can participate?

The study invites teens, aged 11-16, and young adults, aged 18-28, with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and a parent or guardian to participate. Teens and young adults need to speak English competently, using full sentences, to derive the best benefit from the program. Parents and teens/young adults will participate in an intake session where eligibility will be determined. Due to limited group size, some teens/young adults may be placed on a waiting list for inclusion in the next PEERS group.


PEERS FOR TEENS

How long does the study last?

The study will take place in the Department of Psychology, Center for Psychological Services, at Marquette University, and at Froedtert Hospital.

For teens with ASD, the intake sessions, which last about 4 hours, will include one visit to Marquette for questionnaires and behavioral assessments, and two visits to Froedtert Hospital for MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). The first visit to Froedtert will consist of a 30-minute orientation to the MRI and a practice scan. Teens who are comfortable with the practice scan will be invited back to Froedtert for a one-hour long session where they will play a computer game and watch a movie while in the MRI scanner.

Teens and parents will then participate in the PEERS treatment sessions. Evening sessions are once weekly, for 1.5 hours, for 14 weeks. Parents meet concurrently in a separate group to support their teen’s learning of skills. After the 14 weeks of PEERS is completed, parents and teens will participate in a follow-up session, where many of the same measures from intake will be repeated.


What are the benefits?

The study will allow you to contribute to the understanding of ASD, and of how teens who are successful in the program may change behaviorally and neurologically. PEERS intervention will be provided free of charge to eligible teens with ASD and parents. Teens with and without ASD will be provided with a $15 gift card for each hour spent in research participation, and parents will be reimbursed for or provided with free parking.


PEERS FOR YOUNG ADULTS

How long does the study last?

The study will take place in the Department of Psychology, Center for Psychological Services, at Marquette University.

For young adults with ASD, the intake sessions, which last about 3 hours, will include one visit to Marquette for questionnaires, behavioral assessments, measurement of heart rate, and an electroencephalogram (EEG), a non-invasive method of measuring brain activity.

Young adults and parents will then participate in the PEERS treatment sessions. Evening sessions are once weekly, for 1.5 hours, for 16 weeks. Parents meet concurrently in a separate group to support their young adult’s learning of skills. After the 16 weeks of PEERS is completed, parents and young adults will participate in a follow-up session, where many of the same measures from intake will be repeated.


What are the benefits?

The study will allow you to contribute to the understanding of ASD, and of how young adults who are successful in the program may change behaviorally and neurologically. PEERS intervention will be provided free of charge to eligible young adults with ASD and parents. Parents and young adults will be reimbursed for or provided with free parking.


Who do I contact?

For more information or to schedule an intake, please fill out the contact form below, or call the Marquette Autism Project at (414) 288-4438. Please mention that you are interested in the PEERS study for Teens or Young Adults.


The Research Team

Doctoral Students

 
  • Alana McVey, MS
  • Angela Haendel, MS, CCC-SLP
  • Hillary Schiltz, MS
  • Rachel Stanley
  • Elyse Adler
  • Alexis Arias
  • Alex Barrington

Contributors

  • Brianna D. Yund
  • Kenia Rivera
  • Rachel Henry
  • Rachel Hafner

Undergraduate Research Assistants

  • Genesis Martinez
  • Cheyanne Hagan
  • Carly Colman
  • Claire Nicklaw
  • Maria Cobo Nieto
  • Cecily Banks
  • Morgan Ford

Alumni

  • Audrey Meyer Carson, Ph.D.
  • Jeff Karst, Ph.D.
  • Sheryl Stevens, Ph.D.
  • Kirsten Schohl Willar, Ph.D.
  • Bridget Dolan Wozniak, Ph.D.


Contact Us

Address:
Cramer Hall, 359
604 N. 16th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233

Phone: (414) 288-4438
Fax: (414) 288-5333
E-mail: maha.baalbaki@marquette.edu