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Current Studies

Below you will find a list of current studies being in our lab and in our collaborators' sites. If you would like to participate in any of the studies, please visit the Experiment Sign-Up page.

ADDL studies

Relationship between Speech and Social Development:

 Principal Investigator: Dr. Nichole Scheerer

What do we want to know? Our goal is to learn more about the relationship between speech and social development. 

Who are we looking for? Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder between the ages of 17 and 40 years old. 

About the study: Participants will be asked to complete puzzles, describe words, and produce sounds into a microphone, as well as fill out questionnaires about social behaviours. This study will take approximately 2 hours and will take place at the Autism and Developmental Disorders Lab at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby campus. Our flexible availability will allow us to accommodate your schedule, so please let us know a time that works best for you! As a thank you for your time and effort, you will receive $20 ($10 per hour of commitment). 

SFU Study on Special Interests among Children, Youth, and Adults:

Principal Investigator: Dr. Grace Iarocci

What do we want to know? Many children and adults are fascinated by particular classes of objects. The goal of this study is to understand how special interests develop in children, youth and adults. We are examining how a special interest in trains and/or elevators from a young age influences learning about trains and/or elevators vs. learning about social stimuli. For example, do individuals who are experts in trains and/or elevators recognize and process these objects as easily as they recognize faces (a class of objects known to be prioritized by our attention system)?

Who are we looking for? Children, Youth, and Adults of all ages who have a special interest, or are experts in either trains or elevators (or both). We are looking for people with and without a diagnosis Autism Spectrum Disorder

About the study: This research will take place in the Autism and Developmental Disorders Lab at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby Campus. You will be asked to fill out questionnaires, and the person with the special interest will participate in various computer tasks. 

**If you or your child has an intense interest in something other than trains (e.g., dinosaurs, trucks, etc.), we would love to hear from you!

(Online Study) Quality of life in families of children with ASD: From diagnosis to Adulthood

Principal Investigator: Dr. Grace Iarocci

What do we want to know? The overall goal of this study is to gain a better understanding of how family quality of life may change across the lifespan of individuals with autism, and to identify the domains that contribute most positively to families’ quality of life as well as those from which families derive the least satisfaction.

Who are we looking for? We are looking for any caregiver of a child with autism.  The main caregiver may be a parent, a sibling, a spouse, a life partner, or other family member. Anyone in British Columbia is eligible to participate because the study will be conducted using an online survey.

About the study: Participants will complete an online survey.  The total time commitment is approximately 30-60 minutes.  For this study, a $10 gift card will be provided.


Collaborators' studies

Face Diet - Tracking Real Life Exposure to Faces via Head-Mounted Camera

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ipek Oruc, UBC Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

What do we want to know? An observer's "face diet", i.e., statistics of their real life exposure to faces, fundamentally shape the neural mechanisms of face recognition. The size of an observed face has not been considered to play a role in the development of these mechanisms, yet our recent findings have repeatedly shown evidence that larger faces i.e., those viewed within social interaction distances, are processed more efficiently by the human brain. We proposed that this may stem from the fact that our face diet consists predominantly of large faces viewed in social contexts. In this experiment, subjects will wear head-mounted cameras to capture daily interactions in first-person view.

Who are we looking for? Invdividuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder over the ages of 18 years old

About the study:  You will be asked to wear a head-mounted camera over the course of a typical day (8-10 hours) while you go about your daily activities. The camera will be automatically set to capture 2 photos per minute at regular intervals over this timespan. The data from the recordings will be obtained by the investigators and compiled in a password secured database for analysis. For participation you will be compensated $20. You may withdraw at any time. 

Contact for information about the study: If you have any questions or desire further information with respect to this study, you may contact 

Parent Survey on Sound Sensitivity

Principal Investigator: Dr. Elina Birmingham

Are you a parent to an individual with ASD? Does your son or daughter (any age) experience issues with sound sensitivity that impacts their daily life? We want to hear from you! We are surveying parents about their child’s experiences dealing with sound sensitivity. The survey will take under 30 minutes to complete (approx 15-20 min). As a thank-you for your time you will be given the option of being entered in a draw to win a $100 gift card to

To complete the survey please visit this URL (you may need to copy and paste it into your browser):

For questions or to learn more, email [ |

Wanted: Parent Participants, Prizes Available!

Abbi Graves from the Department of Psychology at the University of Victoria is actively recruiting parent participants for a study examining parenting experiences and behaviours in families with a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The study has been approved by the University of Victoria Research Ethics Board (Protocol Number: BC15-381). If you have two children between the age of 16 months and 8 years (a child with ASD and a younger sibling), you may qualify to participate. The study can be completed entirely on-line and will take approximately 20-25 minutes, there is no child participation required. Prizes available! Please contact Abbi at for more information.