Current Research Studies

Autism – SPARK: Understanding Autism

Condition or Therapy:

Autism spectrum disorder



man and child
SPARK logo

What is the goal of this study?

SPARK is an autism research study and a growing community of autistic individuals, their families and researchers on a mission to advance the understanding of autism. SPARK’s mission is to improve the lives of people with autism by identifying the causes of autism and informing more effective therapies, treatments, services and supports. Because without research, we are just guessing.

To understand the complexity of autism — what makes us the same and what makes us different — we need large numbers of people to participate. SPARK is open to all individuals living in the United States with a professional diagnosis of autism and their family members.

Who can join the study?

Are you the parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder? Join us! Are you a person with an autism diagnosis? We need you. There is no cost to you, and we keep your data private. Join now at or contact our study staff at

What will happen if my child takes part in this study?

How do you participate?

  1. Create an account online.
  2. Consent to share your data.
  3. Invite family members.
  4. Give a saliva sample for DNA analysis.
  5. Complete surveys.

How are SPARK and Seattle Children’s connected?

Seattle Children’s is partnered with SPARK through a grant from the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI). We help to recruit and enroll participants in SPARK. If you choose to affiliate with us during registration, you can receive one-on-one support with a SPARK team member at Seattle Children’s. They can help you with any issues that may arise during registration, help with saliva collection and answer your questions.

How does SPARK connect you with other autism research studies?

SPARK Research Match is a service that matches qualified members of the SPARK community to autism research studies. It provides the opportunity to participate in studies led by researchers throughout the United States and internationally. A wide variety of researchers use Research Match to find potential participants who are willing to volunteer for their online or in-person studies. Participants get the chance to be represented in research and hear about studies that are appropriate for them. And we can all learn more about autism.

How does SPARK return genetic results to you?

Genetic changes are one of many causes of autism. If we find that a participant with autism has a genetic change in a gene or copy number variant (CNV) known to be associated with autism, we share those results with you as soon as we can, free of charge. Participants may decide if they want to hear about their results through their own medical provider or a SPARK-provided genetic counselor. At this time, we are finding genetic changes related to autism in about 10% of families enrolled in SPARK.

Who can I contact for more information?

You can register for SPARK and provide saliva samples in person at Seattle Children's Autism Center. Contact the study coordinator to schedule an appointment.

Study Location(s):

Seattle Children's Autism Center 

Principal Investigator:

Dr. Emily Neuhaus