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 development of autistic children, adolescents, and adults. Overall, we are interested in the ways autistic people connect with other autistic and non-autistic people and the world, what gifts they bring to society, how we can ensure access to helpful and wanted supports for autistic people, and how their lives and neurobiology change and develop over time. Several studies are and have been conducted as part of MAP. These include past studies of the PEERS© friendship and social skills curriculum for preschoolers, adolescents, and young adults on the autism spectrum*; studies of the Broader Autism Phenotype amongst college students; studies of anxiety in autistic people; studies of joint attention and socialization in toddlers; studies of mental health and social isolation in autistic people during the COVID-19 pandemic; and studies of attitudes towards college and therapeutic supports amongst autistic adolescents and adults.  Currently, the MAP is recruiting for one study, the Battling the Bottleneck study, described below. Starting in spring of 2024, we plan to introduce a new program to the Milwaukee area, the CUES program. CUES, which stands for Coping with Uncertainty in Everyday Situations, is an 8-week parent training program designed by Dr. Jacqui Rodgers and colleagues, with autistic stakeholder input, at Newcastle University in the UK. We will be training on the program in Fall of 2023 with the intention of running our first groups in Spring of 2024. The program is appropriate for families of children on the spectrum aged 6-16, who are hoping to improve their child’s and family’s ability to handle anxiety-provoking situations in everyday life.  We have also recently started an initiative to connect with and learn from Native American communities in Wisconsin around autism. Please reach out to us at to be placed on our email list for more information, if you are interested in either of these new initiatives.

*As of spring 2023, we will be taking a break from running PEERS© groups at Marquette. Good community options for other social skills/friendship groups can be found at in the Resource Directory. Also, the Concordia University Speech Clinic runs young adult PEERS© for community members, and our collaborator Dr. Laurie Donnell Bjustrom at Elevate Behavioral Health ( in Waukesha, WI, will be running adolescent PEERS© groups starting in summer of 2023.

The Battling the Bottleneck Study:  Improving Access to Autism Diagnosis and Care in WI

The Battling the Bottleneck Study

Would you like to make the diagnosis of Autism in your office setting?

Would you like to know how to document and bill for the service?

Would you like to better navigate and support care for individuals with Autism?

Who is elegible?

  • Pediatricians, Family Practitioners
  • Nurse Practitioners working in primary care or psychiatry
  • Master’s level psychologists and clinical social workers working in medical clinics
  • Family Navigators
  • Patient Coordination Providers

How long is the study?

  • Attend a 1.5 day training session with materials provided
  • Attend twice monthly meetings for 11 months for case consultation

What tests and procedures are involved?

  • Training and meetings as above
  • Completion of surveys before training and after training at 6 months and 12 months

Where is the training and what does participation cost?

  • Training is free and virtual or in person at the Next Step Clinic
  • A free autism diagnostic kit will be provided for medical professionals
  • Continuing medical education credits will be offered

Where will the study take place?

  • The Next Step Clinic, 2545 N. 29th St, Milwaukee, WI 53210, or online on Zoom
  • This study is approved by the Medical College of Wisconsin Institutional Review Board

Contact Amy Van Hecke at or 414-288-7258 for any information about participating or any questions.

The Research Team

Doctoral Students

  • Perry Catlin, MS
  • Sarah Lehman, BA
  • Madeleine Guell, BA


  • Michael Liuzzi, MS
  • Farah Harb, MS
  • Mary Simons, MS

Undergraduate Research Assistants

  • Eliza Borysenko
  • Audrey Earley
  • Frannie Lambie
  • Caroline Sirk
  • Mia Gleason
  • Elizabeth Mezyk
  • Gia Tenuto
  • Indigo Offord
  • Iza Guzek
  • Elsa Hinke
  • Christina Schmidt


  • Audrey Meyer Carson, Ph.D.
  • Jeff Karst, Ph.D.
  • Sheryl Stevens, Ph.D
  • Kirsten Schohl Willar, Ph.D.
  • Bridget Dolan Wozniak, Ph.D.
  • Alana McVey, Ph.D.
  • Angela Haendel, MS, CCC-SLP
  • Hillary Schiltz, Ph.D.
  • Rachel Stanley, MS
  • Elyse Adler, MS
  • Alexis Arias, MS
  • Alex Barrington, BA

Contact Us

Cramer Hall, 3rd floor
604 N. 16th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233

Phone: (414) 288-4438
Fax: (414) 288-5333