Current Studies

We are currently examining the factors that contribute to the diverse pathways and outcomes in children (below the age of 5 diagnosed with ASD within the past 6 months) with ASD. Specifically, we are interested in how characteristics of services and interventions are associated with diversity in child and family functioning across time, which will generate research evidence to help enhance communication between clinicians and families and contribute to developing personalized intervention plans for children with ASD. Participants will be asked to complete a brief set of questionnaires regarding your child, your family, and your experiences with autism services, which will take up to 2 hours, every 6 months for up to 7 timepoints. If you are interested in this study you can contact the study coordinator, Laura de la Roche via email at Participants will be compensated with a $20 gift card at each timepoint and will be provided with a summary of the child’s scores.

Participate in a comprehensive study on neurodevelopment: The Province of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Disorders (POND) Network ( The study involves cognitive assessments, interviews, questionnaires, computer tasks, motor activities, genetics, immune, endocrine, and brain imaging. We are looking for participants in the Kingston area ages 6-21 years old both with and without Autism/ASD, ADHD, or Intellectual Disability. The visit is 3-3.5 hours and the participants will be asked to provide a sample (blood if possible, but saliva is okay). There is an optional brain scan at a later date. ASD participants may be eligible for clinical trial. Both parents and youth will each receive a $25 gift card. You can sign up at or you can contact the Queen’s Genomics Lab/Queen’s Partnership on Neurodevelopment at or 613-548-4419 x 1215/1201. This study is overseen by Dr. Kelley but is conducted at Ongwanada Resource Centre (191 Portsmouth Avenue).

We are currently investigating how autistic and non-autistic youth between 13-18 years old perceive emotional and lexical information through vocal cues. In other words, how do youth with and without ASD understand the meaning of words depending on how they sound? To address this question, participants will be asked to complete a brief set of questionnaires about their background, emotional and lexical prosody tasks where they will listen to various sentences and answer questions about them, as well as an activity to assess their verbal skills. The entire study takes place over Zoom with a research assistant. The study takes about 1.5-2 hours to complete, and participants will be compensated with a $30 Amazon gift card for their time. To participate, youth require access to a working set of headphones, and a laptop with a working camera and microphone. If you are interested in this study, you can contact the study coordinator, Daniel Nault, via email at

Starting in January 2024 will be beginning a randomized control trial of a web-based, parent-mediated intervention for children 1-4 living in Ontario who have been diagnosed in the past six months. The experimental intervention will provide you with 6 mandatory and 8 optional modules which will teach you ways to interact with your child to increase social communication and reduce behaviours that interfere with learning. The control intervention will provide you with 6 mandatory and 8 optional modules that teach you more about autism in general. Online data collection will occur before starting the interventions, upon completing the interventions (six months after starting), and six months after that. Parents will be provided with a $20 gift certificate of their choice for the first two data collection points and a $40 gift certificate of their choice for the last data collection point.  Families may also choose to participate in an online interview about how they felt about the program-this will be compensated with a $10 gift certificate. Come back in January for more information!

Completed Studies

In this study we aimed to understand if social support could be used to reduce depressive symptoms related to stigma experienced by caregivers of autistic children.

Open the Stigma Study Poster

In this study, we aimed to understand the associations between social skills and social communication difficulties and depression in autistic youth.

Follow link to view Study Poster (PDF, 527 KB)

We sought to gain an understanding of the relationship between parental reports of their experiences as a parent of an autistic child, and their report on their autistic child’s development.

Follow link to view poster (PDF, 333 KB)

While adolescents with ASD struggle in making friends, they consistently report a desire for friendship (Bauminger et al., 2000) and they do make friends (Petrina et al., 2014). More so, despite friendships that are reported to be lower in quality in comparison to the friendships of their neutorypical counterparts, individuals with ASD often report feeling satisfied with their friendships (Calder et al., 2012). To support adolescents with ASD in the development of meaningful relationships, we require stronger theoretical foundation for understanding how friendships are formed and experienced in this population from their own perspective. The present study explored the processes by which adolescents with ASD develop and maintain meaningful and satisfying friendships using the methodology of constructivist grounded theory. Data collection and coding of 25 interviews with 13- to 16-year-old adolescents with ASD was completed using the method of constant comparison. The results of this study present a substantive theory of how adolescents with ASD establish and experience friendship, identifying a core social process of building familiarity. This research provides a better understanding of the internal social processes that adolescents with ASD experience as they develop friendships, and can help caregivers and care providers better understand how to support the development of such relationships.

In this study, we are looking to better understand the types of things that work best at motivating children with and without ASD to imitate another person's actions.

We are looking to gain a better understanding of bullying/victimization experienced by adolescents with and without special needs and to determine why such behaviours occur.

We are looking to better understand the relationship between repetitive, restricted, and stereotyped behaviours and atypical sensory processing in children with ASD.

We are looking to provide an in-depth examination of language, cognitive, social, brain, and day-to-day functioning of high-functioning individuals with ASD.

Follow link to view the poster (PDF, 169 KB) presented at the 8th Annual International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR)!

To investigate the relationship between having an understanding that other people have different perspectives and beliefs, and children’s ability to deceive others.

To understand the relationship between sensory issues and language level in young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).