Autism Research Studies at Stanford

Study Title/ Age 


SPARK (Simons Powering Autism Research) Study

all ages

If you or your child has a professional diagnosis of autism, Stanford University invites you to learn more about SPARK, a new online research study sponsored by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. The mission of SPARK is clear: speed up research and advance understanding of autism by creating the nation’s largest autism study. Joining SPARK is simple – register online and provide a DNA sample via a saliva collection kit in the comfort of your own home. Together, we can help spark a better future for all individuals and families affected by autism.

Register in person at Stanford University by contacting us at or online at

Targeting the neurobiology of restricted and repetitive behaviors in children with autism using N-acetylcysteine: Randomized Controlled Trial

3-12 Years  

Targeting the neurobiology of restricted and repetitive behaviors in children with autism using N-acetylcysteine: Randomized Controlled Trial

We are recruiting children with autism spectrum disorder to participate in a research study at Stanford University. Our goal is to examineth effects of N-acetyl cysteine, an over-the-counter dietary supplement, on the brain circuits that underlie some restricted and repetitive behaviors.   

To be elligible for this trial, your child must:

  • be aged between 3 and 12 years old
  • exhibit restricted and repetitive behaviors
  • be willing to drink N-acetyl cysteine dissolved in water
  • be willing to undergo brain scanning with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • be willing to undergo brain scanning with electroencephalography (EEG)


The study will take place at Stanford University over 12-to-16-week period. Our safety protocols have been updated for COVID-19 and many research activities will be completed remotely using Zoom and virtual surveys. Your child must be willing to:

  • complete cognitive and behvaiorial assessments (such as IQ tetsing)
  • be able to either sleep (young children) or lie still in the scanner during an MRI
  • tolerate wearing an EEG cap
  • drink N-acetyl cysteine dissolved in water for a total of 12-week period


For Participant inquiries contact:

Autism Center of Excellence Sleep Study

8-17 Years  

Dear Parents,

We are excited to tell you about a new research study for children. We are looking to partner with parents who have children that are between the ages of 4 and 17 years old, with and without an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis.

What is involved?

  • In-person cognitive and behavioral assessments
  • Day-time Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • In-home, 2 night sleep monitoring session
  • Collection of saliva to measure cortisol and melatonin levels
  • Wearing a watch device that tracks sleep and daily activity


What will I receive if I participate?

  • Research sleep report and behavioral testing summary upon request
  • $50 for each in-person visit to Stanford and $100 for the 2 night in-home sleep assessment


Treatment extension study:

  • If your child has ASD, sleep difficulties, and ages 8-17, they may also qualify for sleep medication trials


Interested in participating or want to learn more?  Click Here!

If you would like to reach out to our team directly with any questions, please contact our team below!




Neuroimaging Predictors of Improvement to Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) in Young Children With Autism


2-4 years

Neuroimaging Predictors of Improvement to Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) in Young Children With Autism

Stanford University researchers are recruiting children with autism to identify brain imaging predictors of benefits from Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) targeting language abilities.

In order to participate in this research study, your child must:

  • Be between the ages of 2 and 4 years
  • Be able to complete an MRI of the brain during natural sleep
  • Participate in a 16-week parent training program
  • Meet inclusion based on testing.

Vasopressin Treatment Trial for Children with Autism

6 - 17 years

Vasopressin Treatment Trial for Children with Autism

The purpose of this clinical trial is to investigate the effectiveness of vasopressin nasal spray for treating symptoms associated with autism. Vasopressin is a hormone that is produced naturally within the body and has been implicated in regulating social behaviors. It has been proposed that administration of the hormone may also help improve social functioning in individuals with autism.

Link to study at


Pregnenolone Randomized Controlled Trial


14 - 21 years

Neurosteroid Pregnenolone Treatment for Irritability in Adolescents with Autism

Medication treatments for core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) continue to be unmet medical needs. The only medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of individuals with ASD are effective in treating irritability and associated aggressive behaviors, but these medications can also cause severe long-term side effects such as diabetes and involuntary motor movements. Therefore, effective medications with more tolerable side effect profiles are highly desirable. This profile is consistent with pregnenolone (PREG). PREG belongs to a new class of hormones known as neurosteroids, which have been shown to be effective in treating various psychiatric conditions including bipolar depression and schizophrenia. As compared to currently FDA-approved medications, our preliminary data suggested that PREG may represent a potentially effective and well-tolerated agent for treating irritability in individuals with ASD. In addition, our experience suggests that PREG might be helpful in improving selected core symptoms such as social deficits and sensory abnormalities of ASD. This study provides the opportunity to further explore the usefulness of PREG in the treatment of irritability and some core symptoms of ASD. We are performing a 12-week randomized double-blind controlled pilot trial to examine the effectiveness of orally administered PREG in reducing irritability and associated behaviors in adolescents with ASD. In this study, we also aim to examine the usefulness of biomarkers (blood levels of neurosteroids, eyetracking and brain wave recording) in predicting treatment response and assessing biologic changes with PREG treatment.

Study Flyer 

Link to study in Stanford's Clinical Trials Directory