The Simons Simplex Collection


The wide range of autistic symptoms presents a formidable challenge to researchers looking for risk factors, causes, and treatments. This study is focused on families with just one child with autism, called simplex families, which will provide insight into the most common and unexplained form of autism.

Families that consist of one (and only one) child affected by autism spectrum disorder between the ages of 4 to 17, unaffected biological parents who are both willing to participate and unaffected siblings age 4 or older are invited to participate. A small number of families with no siblings, or siblings under the age of four, may be eligible to participate.

Each of the members of a family will have a slightly different role in this study, however, every individual invited to participate is essential to the study. Biological parents will complete standardized questionnaires and interviews about their children's behavior, development, medical history, and daily interactions. Parents will also complete standardized questionnaires about each other's behavior. A child with ASD will complete a battery of standardized assessments to measure verbal, nonverbal, and social-communication skills. All family members participating in this study will have their blood drawn for genetics research, participate in a medical genetics research evaluation, and have digital images taken.

The assessments and interviews are estimated to last up to 10 hours which will be divided between two visits in our lab and phone calls.

Parents of children with identified developmental delays will receive oral feedback and a written report summarizing the assessment results. Families will have an opportunity to have their child undergo a medical evaluation with a geneticist and speak with a genetic counselor about questions they may have. In addition, each participating member of the family will receive $40 in compensation.

Your child can be in this study if he or she is either:

  • Is between 4 and 17 years of age; has either suspected or identified delays in social, communication, cognitive, or other areas, and if the child has no visual or hearing impairment, seizure disorder, or any known genetic syndrome.


  • Both biological parents and, if applicable, a sibling are willing to participate in the study.

The study has been approved by the Yale Human Investigations Committee, protocol # 0711003222. The examiners working with your child have extensive experience and clinical training.

The study is funded entirely by Simons Foundation.

There are twelve other medical centers across North America based at the following universities: Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Columbia University in New York, Emory University in Atlanta, Harvard University in Boston, McGill University in Montreal, Canada, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Illinois in Chicago, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, University of Missouri in Columbia, University of Washington in Seattle, Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Washington University in St. Louis.

If you would like to get more information about the study, please call Dianna DePedro at 203-785-3488 or email her at