UCLA Research Study on Youth With Autism or Asperger Syndrome

Study Detail

Many youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience increased daily stress due to ASD-related symptoms. Social skills challenges, communication difficulties, or sensory sensitivities could potentially generate stress for youth with ASD in a variety of contexts. In typically developing children, stress level can be measured using a variety of techniques, such as collection of saliva samples (i.e., salivary cortisol collection).  This technique is reliable and noninvasive.  In this study, we plan to use salivary cortisol collection and examine the relation between cortisol and stress in youth (age 7-14) with high-functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome.  Establishing a relation between cortisol and stress in youth with ASD has the potential to serve as an objective marker of distress in youth who often have difficulty reporting emotions.  Further, it will provide a more complete understanding of the physiological systems underlying stress and anxiety in ASD.  This project is supported in part by a UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment (CART) Pilot Grant award to Lindsey Sterling, Ph.D. who works with CART investigator Jeffrey Wood, Ph.D.

More information and application
Target audience: 

Youth with autism or Asperger syndrome between the ages 7 and 14 years.


Parents of potentially eleigible youth will be screened over the telephone; this will last approximately 5-10 minutes. Youth selected for the study will participate in a 2 hour session involving two activities assessing brain and nervous system responses in youth with autism  or Asperger syndrome. They will also be asked to collect small samples of their saliva at home for 3 days.


Eligible youth will receive $45 and a FREE of charge diagnostic evaluation of abilities, cognitive functioning, and adaptive skills.

Contact details: 

For more information, please contact: Dr. Lindsey Sterling and Dr. Jeffrey Wood at: 310- 882-0537 or lsterling@mednet.ucla.edu

Review and Approval
Renewal Date: 
2011, November 3