Canisius Receives $74,044 to Measure Physical Fitness in Aging and Autism Study

May 29, 2019

The Canisius University Departments of Kinesiology, Psychology, and the Institute for Autism Research (IAR) received a $72,044 federal grant from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department (HHS). The grant, from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging, is a supplement to the recently funded Canisius Aging and Autism Study. The grant provides for the addition of assessment of objective markers of physical fitness to the ongoing research on aging and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

“Research on autism spectrum disorder in older adulthood lags significantly behind that of research in other age groups,” said Margaret C. McCarthy, PhD, vice president for academic affairs at Canisius University. “The Canisius Aging and Autism Study enables Canisius researchers to extend their contributions to the science of ASD and their expertise on aging to an incredibly important area of scholarship.”                                                                   

Research will be conducted by study investigators Karl F. Kozlowski, PhD, associate professor of kinesiology and the exercise physiologist directing the physical fitness portion of the project;

Jonathan D. Rodgers, PhD, assistant professor of psychology;  Jennifer Lodi-Smith, PhD, associate professor of psychology; James P. Donnelly, PhD, professor of counseling and human services; Christopher Lopata, PsyD; professor of teacher education and co-director of the IAR; and Marcus Thomeer, PhD, associate professor of teacher education and co-director of the IAR.

 “The addition of a robust physical fitness assessment will enhance the ways in which the Canisius Aging and Autism study is characterizing the outcomes associated with aging and potentially identify ways to support physical health in individuals aging with ASD,” said Kozlowski.

In the Canisius Aging and Autism Study, Canisius partners with community organizations to recruit individuals aged 65 and older to participate in a two-phase study protocol. Study participants complete a set of surveys and a sub-sample complete a battery of in-person assessments. Participants are characterized on ASD symptoms alongside multiple domains of aging including physical health, cognitive performance, and psychological well-being. This project aims to facilitate subsequent longitudinal studies of aging in adults with and without ASD characteristics. This project also tests potential indicators of positive aging outcomes with the aim of identifying targets for future intervention research in this understudied and underserved population.

The community is encouraged to get involved in this important research. You do NOT need a diagnosis of ASD to participate in this study. We hope to include individuals with varying degrees of ASD characteristics from minimal to high. We also welcome participation from adults of all ages though we are particularly interested in understanding autism in individuals age 65 and older.

To participate in this study please visit or call 716-888-2513 to request a paper copy of the survey.

Funding for the Canisius Aging and Autism Study is provided through the NIH’s R21 grant mechanism, which encourages exploratory research. Funded applications must be in an area of promising and new research and at the beginning of a substantial program of scientific work.

The Institute for Autism Research is an interdisciplinary collaborative research center dedicated to understanding autism spectrum disorder and enhancing the lives of those affected and their families. This research work has led to development of several new and effective treatments which are provided by IAR staff to community partners and schools.

Researchers at the IAR are dedicated to training the next generation of researchers and practitioners through advanced academic, research, and clinical and community-based experiences.

For more information regarding this study and/or the Institute for Autism Research at Canisius University, visit or call the Office of College Communications at (716) 888-2790.

Canisius University is one of 28 Jesuit universities in the nation and the premier private university in Western New York.