DUE TO COVID-19, POLO has created a remote study for families of children with ASD. Please click here to learn more!


POLO seeks to clarify and understand the difference between:

  • Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder who start with significant language delays but make gains during early school years (“late bloomers”), and
  • Children with ASD who remain minimally verbal.

Who can participate?

  • Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder age 3 ½ to 7
  • Children with no known developmental disorders age 3 ½ to 7
  • Participants with ASD (any age) from previous lab studies for a sub-project involving DNA analysis
    English must be the primary language spoken at home.

What does the study involve?

There are multiple components to this project, as it is a collaboration with colleagues in the Greater Boston Area and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles.

For participants with and without ASD in the Greater Boston Area, the study involves visiting the Center for Autism Research Excellence at Boston University and engaging in play-based behavioral assessments and general motor assessments. The behavioral assessments are fun for your child, and allow us to learn more about how they think. The motor assessments will involve walking, sitting, standing, and running on a specialized carpet that will give us information about how they move! Participants will also visit Dr. Jordan Green’s lab at MGH for facial motor assessments.

Participants will return once a year for 2 years (a total of 3 visits– at start, one year after start, and two years after start) to repeat these assessments, as the Boston portion of this project is longitudinal.

Participants and immediate family members will also provide saliva samples for DNA analysis.

For participants with ASD in the Greater Los Angeles area, the study involves visiting the Kasari lab at UCLA for a 12-week play-based intervention called JASPER. One of the two randomized groups will receive an additional language-focused intervention called PROMPT. Both groups will complete pre-intervention and post-intervention testing. This option is only available for individuals who are local to Los Angeles.

Participants and immediate family members will provide saliva samples for DNA analysis.

Please note that interventions are randomly assigned, so your child may not receive the intervention you prefer. You may only sign up for this study if you are willing to participate regardless of intervention group. 

Previous CARE participants with ASD (any age), and their family members are invited to provide saliva samples for DNA analysis at the Boston center.

What will we receive?

Participating families will be compensated for their time, depending on which project they participate in.

This project is supported by the National Institutes of Health.