IAR - Participate in Research

Advances in the understanding and treatment of autism and related developmental disorders are dependent on sound research. Faculty at the IAR are dedicated to conducting rigorous studies that shed light on key aspects of the disorders and identify effective treatments and educational programming that maximizes the quality of life of those affected and their families. If you are interested in participating in research, please consider one of the projects listed below. These projects are currently accepting applications.

summerMAXyc Clinical Trial

We will be conducting a clinical trial of the summerMAXyc program for 4-6 year old autistic children without intellectual disability (ID). This program will be conducted in Niagara county in collaboration with Niagara Falls City School District.  Note that our ability to conduct the summerMAXyc program in the summer of 2022 will be dependent upon on the state of the COVID pandemic and health/safety mandates.    

For the last 20 years, we have conducted our summerMAX program for 7-12 year old autistic children without ID and we have demonstrated through 7 studies including 3 clinical trials the effectiveness of the summerMAX program in significantly improving the social functioning of children who participate and in reducing their autism symptoms.  Several years ago we adapted the summerMAX program to the unique characteristics and developmental level of 4-6 year old autistic children without ID.  We conducted two studies of the feasibility and initial efficacy of the summerMAXyc program and found it to be feasible (i.e., high satisfaction from parents, children and clinicians and the adapted program could be implemented as manualized) and found the program improved the participating children’s social functioning and reduced autism symptoms.  We will be conducting a randomized clinical trial this summer to further assess its efficacy

The focus of summerMAXyc is to teach social skills and provide multiple opportunities to practice the skills.  We will work on 3 main areas that are difficult for autistic children without ID: social skills, interest expansion, and face and affect recognition.  We divide each day into eight to ten 30-minute treatment blocks.  The first 10 minutes of each 30 minute block will consist of social skill instruction that includes role play and modeling.  After the instruction period, the children will participate in a 20 minute therapeutic activity in which they practice the skills they were just taught in a cooperative group activity.  

While the program is a treatment program, the children will see it as a summer camp.  We do not tell the children they have autism.  Note that all the clinicians who work in our program are college students who are given extensive training in how to implement the manualized treatments.  All clinicians must demonstrate competence in implementing the protocol before they can work in the program.

This summer the program will be conducted Monday through Friday in the summer of 2022.  Children will be randomly assigned to participate in one of two 4-5 week sessions offered during the summer.  The program wil run 6-7 hours a day depending upon the session the child is assigned. Once a week parent education classes will be provided during the program so that parents/caregivers are informed of the program elements and how they can incorporate learned skills into home and community settings.  

To apply, please submit the following information:

  • Documentation of Diagnosis/Prior Evaluation reports (psychological, psychiatric, and/or speech and language reports)
  • Family Information Form (required) – please print, complete, and submit
  • Most recent IFSP, IEP or 504 Plan (if child receives special education services)

Please send, fax or email this information to:

Institute for Autism Research
Canisius University
2001 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14208
Fax Number: (716) 888-8540
Email: @email


Online Survey for Families of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder who are Transitioning to Adulthood

Researchers from Michigan State University are developing an online family psychoeducation program to support caregivers who have a family member with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) transitioning to adulthood. Dr. Gloria Lee and her colleagues are seeking families who have a transition-age family member (age 14 and up) who has ASD to participate in this 10-minute online survey. The survey asks about users' internet utilization and needs which will then be used to help Dr. Lee and her team develop a web-based psychoeducation program for families and caregivers of individuals with ASD who are transitioning to adulthood.  Participants will be eligible to participate in the program once it is developed.  

The survey has been approved by Michigan State University’s institutional review board, and can be accessed by clicking this secure link here.

Please feel free to contact Dr. Lee, at Michigan State University if you have further questions via her e-mail: @email.