Wisconsin Twin Research
Graduate Students | Researchers | Parents | Meet the Staff | Newsletters | Contact Us | Home
  Parents :: Autism studies (TAP)

Twin Autism Project LogoTwin Autism Project  

family and dog
Wisconsin Twin Research has partnered with University of Wisconsin Research on Autism to create a thorough longitudinal study of twins on the autism spectrum, internally referred to as the Twin Autism Project (TAP). The goal of TAP is to learn more about the genetic factors in autism by comparing similarities and differences in identical and fraternal twin pairs. A related question is whether twinning itself or factors in twin prenatal development might be risk factors for autism. It is estimated that in Wisconsin there are approximately 150 twin pairs (under age 21) in which one or both twins are on the autism spectrum.

Over 125 twin pairs have been identified in which one or both twins are on the autism spectrum or speculated to be on the spectrum. As of December 2007, seventy-five of these families enrolled in the phone interview phase of the study. Additionally, over 50 families participated in the home visit portion. Brief descriptions of the project phases are below; however, parents should refer to consent forms provided by the project for official and more thorough information.

Currently the project is in the data analysis phase. No families are being recruited at this time.


Phone Interview Phase

Family participation in this phase of the study involves a one-hour phone interview about the twins' current behavioral, social and language skills, as well as a brief medical history. The interview is scheduled at a time that is convenient for families, including nights and weekends.

Home Visit Phase

The home visit phase involves two visits to the family's home to get to know the twins better. At the home visits, a variety of standardized measures are conducted in order to learn about the twins' motor and speech skills, their cognitive abilities, and language production. The children also do vocabulary and language activities on the computer to examine language reception.

During the visits, two members of the research team will interact with each child one-on-one, but parents are welcome to observe all activities. The activities are tailored to the twins' ability and speech level and are not intended to be stressful.

Neuroimaging Phase

We are currently planning to use both structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to better understand the brain function of autistic individuals. Eligible families that participated in the home visit phase will be invited to participate in the near future.

University of Wisconsin-Madison :: Department of Psychology :: Waisman Center
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Psychology Department, University of WI, Madison
Waisman Center, UW Madison