If you are interested in participating in POLO, please click here to fill out a screener form. Researchers will be in contact with you shortly to determine your child’s eligibility. Email polo@bu.edu with any questions!

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 who do not have a first-degree relative diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder
  • Participants with ASD (any age) for a sub-project involving DNA analysis
    English must be the primary language spoken at home and/or school.

What does the study involve?

This study involves a collaboration between teams at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, and University of California in 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 completing play-based cognitive and behavioral assessments, language assessments, facial and general motor tasks, and non-invasive brain imaging (EEG). The behavioral assessments are fun for your child, and allow us to learn more about how they think. The motor assessments will involve walking and balancing on a specialized carpet and making sounds while wearing stickers on their face and mouth, which gives us information on how they move! Parents will also be asked to complete a set of questionnaires and an interview with a member of our team to learn more about their child’s development either over Zoom or in-person. 

The first time-point of the study typically consists of three visits to the lab. Some participants diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder may be asked to return to the lab for additional visits, 6 months and 12 months after the first time-point. 

Participants diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their immediate family members have the option to provide saliva samples for DNA analysis for extra compensation.

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 Boston University.

What will we receive?

  • Up to $175-$200 in the form of Amazon gift cards
  • Free parking or public transportation reimbursement
  • Free child care for any siblings who attend
  • Report on child’s performance
  • Snacks and prizes

This project is supported by the National Institutes of Health.

How can I participate?

If you are interested in participating and would like to be contacted, please click here, so researchers can determine your preliminary eligibility.

To learn more, email us at polo@bu.edu or call us at (617)-863-7370.