Adults with ASD often experience depression and anxiety symptoms which can affect quality of life. Participants will attend 8 weekly sessions involving stress-reduction education and social support that have reduced depresssion in adults with ASD. Our research aims to understand brain functioning before and after stress-reduction classes to help us better understand how symptom improvements relate to brain functioning in adults with ASD.
Study participation is voluntary and will involve 10 visits in 10 weeks:
• Stress-reduction education and social support group sessions (8 weekly
1-2 hour sessions on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings in February and March)
• MRI (~1 hour during the first and last study visits)
• EEG (~30 min. during the first and last study visits)
• Questionnaires (~20 min. during the first and last study visits)
• Optional questionnaires for a friend or family member (~10 minutes)
• Age 18 to 89 years old, with a special focus on adults with ASD who are going to college given the additional stress of this phase in life. We are recruiting participants across a broad age range in order to maximize our ability to inform interventions for adults with ASD. The upper age limit of 89 years was selected so a de-identified dataset can be created with all participant ages included.
• ASD diagnosis via gold-standard diagnostic assessments (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2).
• Must be able to attend at least 7 of the 8 weekly intervention sessions in Phoenix, Arizona.
• English speaking: Participants must be English-speaking because the screening and behavioral measures are in English (including the intelligence estimate). Future studies will include alternate Spanish language tasks to accommodate our largest ethnic minority.
• Non-verbal participants will be excluded to ensure test compliance and increase sample homogeneity.
• Participants with IQ scores <70 will be excluded to minimize variability due to general cognitive functioning. We will screen participants for this inclusion criteria with the Wide Range Achievement Test during the phone screen.
• Report of any major medical illnesses, histories of seizures, or head trauma with loss of consciousness. These health factors can cause brain changes that would confound findings.
• Concerns that the participant may not be able to complete the MRI neuroimaging requirements for the study, including claustrophobia or metal objects within the participant’s body or eyes. Implanted metal objects may create a safety hazard in the powerful magnetic field during MRI imaging.
• Pregnant women. MRI has no known effects on pregnancy or fertility. However, since we are not 100% certain MRI has no effects on a developing fetus, women who are pregnant may not participate in this study.