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Autism Studies at Riley Hospital for Children Accepting Participants


One study will evaluate whether D-cycloserine can enhance social skills training interventions in children and young adolescents with autism. D-cycloserine is approved for treatment of tuberculosis but has been shown to have positive effects when used in conjunction with behavior therapy in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and other conditions.

The study will enroll 52 children between the ages of 5 and 11 years with autism spectrum disorders. Half of the group will be given a placebo and the other half will receive D-cycloserine. Both groups will receive 10 weeks of intensive social skills training focusing on topics such as conversations, play skills and emotional understanding.

The randomized, placebo-controlled study will evaluate the long-term effects by assessing participants three months after treatment. The study is recruiting for both youth with autism spectrum disorders and youth with typical development who can serve as peer trainers in the study groups. This is the only study of its kind in the country using a novel medication given prior to peer-based social skills training.

Another study, which is taking place at five treatment centers in the United States, will evaluate the effectiveness of a structured parent training program compared to a comprehensive parental education program in 180 young children with autism spectrum disorders between the ages of 3 and 7 years with significant behavior problems. Eligible participants will be randomly assigned to receive either intensive parent training or an educational program over the course of six months.

The success of the training programs will be based on the overall improvement and gains in the social, communication and daily living skills of the children. The effects of parent training on parental stress, social behavior and the possible moderating effects of concurrent interventions also will be explored.

Although the role of parents as a valuable component of the treatment team is well known, few studies have tested parent-based interventions, and no large-scale multi-site studies have been undertaken. This study will be conducted at leading autism research programs involving Indiana University, Yale University, the University of Rochester, the University of Pittsburgh and The Ohio State University.

Autism Spectrum Disorders affect up to 1 in 110 children in the United States. The Indiana University School of Medicine faculty at the Christian Sarkine Autism Treatment Center at Riley Hospital are on the cutting edge of bringing new treatment options to families affected by autism spectrum disorders. 

For additional information or to enroll in a study, call 317-948-9766 or email

These clinical studies are funded by the United Stated Department of Defense and the National Institute of Mental Health.