Who can participate in the Little Listeners Project?

The Little Listeners Project includes children who are developing typically between the ages of 18 and 35 months, and children with a suspected or diagnosed autism spectrum disorder between the ages of 24 and 35 months. We do have additional study criteria that we will discuss with you over the phone to see if your child is eligible to participate.

If you have questions about whether your child is eligible or if you would like to be contacted with more information, please visit our Sign Up page!

Do you provide autism diagnoses?

Yes. This study specifically includes young children who are suspected to have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or who already have a previous diagnosis of ASD from a community practitioner. All children with suspected or diagnosed ASD will undergo a full diagnostic evaluation by a licensed psychologist and a speech-language pathologist. The evaluation will include cognitive, language, and autism assessments. Families of children with diagnosed or suspected ASD will participate in a family meeting with the clinicians at the end of the visit to discuss the results of the evaluation. These families will also receive a written evaluation report, which they are welcome to share with other professionals, such as teachers, daycare providers, or therapists.

How does the study work?

Each visit consists of multiple activities. During some of the visit, your child will sit on your lap and watch short “movies” that help us determine how young children understand language. During other parts, your child will play with an examiner, look at books, and answer questions. Additionally, you will be asked to answer some questions and fill out a few questionnaires.

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How long does it take?

Families in our typically developing group will have two in-person visits of about 1 hour each, and one remote visit lasting 1 ½ – 2 hours.

Families in our ASD group will have two in-person visits of about 1 hour each, and two remote visits lasting about 3 ½ hours each. Families in this group will also have a remote feedback meeting with our study team lasting 1 – 1 ½ hours.

Families in both groups may be invited back one year after their first visits for follow-up.

Will we be compensated for our time?

Yes. You will be compensated for your participation, and you will receive mileage reimbursement if you live farther than 20 miles from the Waisman Center. Families with children who are developing typically will earn a total of $95 for approximately 3-4 hours of time, and families with children who have a suspected or diagnosed autism spectrum disorder will earn a total of $225 for approximately 5-7 hours of time.

How do I cancel or reschedule an appointment?

If you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment, please call (608) 263-3123 or email us at littlelisteners@waisman.wisc.edu.

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Will I be with my child during the study?

You and your child will be together during all of the movies and activities at the Waisman Center. Additional assessments will be done via secure remote platforms during COVID-19 protocols. For some of those assessments, both you and your child will need to be present on screen with the study team. Other assessments will be interviews solely between you (the parent or caregiver) and our research team.

Parents of typically developing children will remain in the same room as their child throughout all of the activities. There will be a brief parent interview for typically developing children. Please feel free to discuss any concerns with us at the time of scheduling.

What if my child is uncooperative during the study?

We understand that young children can be unpredictable and stubborn at times, and if your child becomes uncooperative or upset at any point, we are happy to take breaks or move on to different activities to make them feel more comfortable.

Can I bring my other children with me to the appointment?

COVID-19 safety protocols allow only the participating child and up to two adults to attend research appointments. We are unable to allow siblings to attend in-person visits at this time.

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Will there be a follow-up visit?

The Little Listeners Project is designed as a longitudinal study of language in young children with and without autism spectrum disorder. This means we are interested in studying how your child develops language over time. In order to do this, families may be offered the opportunity to participate in a follow-up visit approximately one year after the initial visit. There is no obligation to participate.

How will the findings from the study be used?

The findings from our study will be presented at conferences and published in academic journals to be read by fellow researchers and educators interested in language and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We will add links to these articles to our Publications page, and we may also send out a newsletter periodically to update families on our findings. Additionally, our results may be used to help inform clinical assessments and practices related to ASD.

You will have the opportunity to give optional permission for the audio/video recordings of your child to be used for educational, training, or professional purposes. Beyond those optional recordings, we never release or publish identifying information about specific children who participated, and your child’s individual results and performance will remain completely confidential.

How do I get there?

The Little Listeners Project is located in the Waisman Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. The address is 1500 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53705. Please visit our Find Us page for more information.

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What about parking?

There is a parking lot behind the Waisman Center available to our participants (Lot 82). Parking permits are required, so we will send you permits in the mail. Bring your permit on the day of your appointment and hang it from your rearview mirror with the date facing outwards towards your windshield. If you did not receive the permit or forgot to bring it along to your appointment, you can let our staff know when we come to meet you at the entrance.

What do I need to know about COVID-19 safety protocols for in-person visits?

  • Our staff members will be wearing masks and will keep them on for the duration of your visit.
  • The first floor of our building is a clinic, so masks are required there.
  • Once we are past the lobby, you may decide if you and your child will continue to wear your masks.
  • We have medical grade masks on hand if you would like one for yourself or your child.

If you or anyone in the household has experienced COVID symptoms in the past week, please call us at 608-263-3123 before coming to campus to reschedule your in-person visit.

  • Fever (temperature at or above 100.4°F/38°C)
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Cough that is unexplained
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea (multiple episodes of loose or watery stools)
  • Chills with or without shaking
  • Muscle pain that is unexplained
  • Runny nose or nasal congestion (new or worsening from baseline)
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Headache that is unexplained (different than typical headaches)

Still have a question?

Send us an email.

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