Center for Autism and Related Disorders
Center for Autism & Related Disorders


CARD Research

CARD Studies:

The research team utilizes the data from the CARD SKILLS database to compare various aspects of treatment with outcomes.

    Examples of previous studies include comparing:
  • Home versus center-based services
  • Levels of supervision and supervisor qualifications
  • Level of mastery across curricula domains

PEERS Study:

The PEERS project is a randomized control study that aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the UCLA PEERS program in developing social skills.

Sleep Study:

This study aims to treat sleep difficulties in school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder through parent training and utilization of behavioral principles.

Camp Discovery App Study:

One-to- One Delivery:

A previous randomized control trial that evaluated the effectiveness of the Camp Discovery App found that children mastered significantly more exemplars during treatment with the app.

Group Delivery:

The current study aims to expand the findings of the one-to- one study to evaluate the effectiveness of the Camp Discovery app in a group setting.

Behavioral Program

We are currently conducting research on various behavioral aspects of ASD. These studies aim to investigate factors related to behavioral outcomes.

Treatment Evaluation Protocols: Supervisors and therapists have the option to develop their own treatment evaluation protocols that target specific behaviors.

    Some examples of protocols currently under development include:
  • Treatment of stereotypical behavior
  • Teaching social skills through video modeling
  • Teaching gross motor skills (i.e. throwing and catching)
  • Teaching levels of self-disclosure in friendships
  • Teaching conditional discriminations and categories through simple versus complex auditory-visual samples

Biological Program

CARD is interested in researching the underlying biological mechanisms associated with ASD and how they may influence autism severity, symptom presentation, and comorbidities.

Technology Program

We are also studying how technology may be utilized to treat ASD. Technology that can effectively teach target skills may be a viable method of supplementing treatment.

Call Us 855.345.2273 CARD Research Programs

Interested in participating in one of our programs?

To express interest in having your child participate in any research program/ study, or for more information, please email us at:


Research Team

Dennis Dixon

Dennis Dixon, PhD

Chief Strategy Officer

Dennis Dixon, PhD, oversees research at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders. He received a PhD in clinical psychology from Louisiana State University with a focus on developmental disabilities and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine where he specialized in the treatment of severe challenging behaviors. He also serves as the executive director of Autism Research Group, a nonprofit organization focused on improving the lives of persons with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families through science.  Dr. Dixon is on the editorial boards of the journals Research in Developmental Disorders and Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. His research focuses on the use of technology and big data analytics to improve the treatment outcomes and quality of life for individuals with ASD.

Christina Whalen

Christina Whalen, PhD

Director of New Initiatives

Christina Whalen is a psychologist and doctoral-level Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D) specializing in autism and related disorders. She received her PhD at U.C. San Diego and did her post-doctoral fellowship at U.C.L.A. She has more than 20 years experience in research and clinical practice with children with autism and their families. Dr. Whalen has developed and supervised home programs, educated and trained parents and teachers, consulted with school districts, taught college and graduate courses in psychology and education, presented at numerous conferences, published in several journals, and participates in fund-raising activities for various autism organizations. She is the editor and author of the book “Real Life, Real Progress,“ as well as several research publications. She is currently the Director of new initiatives at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) and is working on technology-based solutions for teaching social skills to children with autism and helping to establish more opportunities for services for adults with ASDs.

Marlena Novack

Marlena Novack

Project Manager

Marlena Novack is a project manager at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD). She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Marlena has contributed to a number of CARD research publications and has experience managing large data acquisition projects.

Esther Hong

Esther Hong

Assistant Analyst

Esther Hong is a research assistant at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD). She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Southern California. Esther contributes to research publications and is currently overseeing the PEERS ® program at CARD. Prior to joining the Analytics team, Esther was a senior behavior therapist and has over three years of clinical experience working with individuals with autism spectrum disorder.

Claire Burns

Claire Burns

Research Assistant

Claire Burns is a research assistant at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders and a clinical psychology doctoral student at Louisiana State University (LSU) studying autism spectrum disorders and intellectual/developmental disabilities. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Tulane University. Prior to studying at LSU, she was a research associate at the LSU Health Sciences Center and worked on MRI studies investigating the differences in motor and language areas in children with autism.

Jina Jang

Jina Jang, M.A.

Research Assistant

Jina Jang is a research assistant and senior therapist at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders. She currently is a fourth year doctoral student in clinical psychology at Louisiana State University. Her research interests include early identification and intervention for autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disorders, with particular emphasis on factors such as cultural differences impacting diagnosis and treatment.

Jasper Estabillo

Jasper Estabillo

Research Assistant

Jasper Estabillo is a research assistant and an assistant supervisor at the CARD Baton Rouge office. She is currently a second year doctoral student in child clinical psychology at Louisiana State University. Her research interests include early identification, differential diagnosis, and comorbidities of autism spectrum disorder and intellectual/developmental disabilities. Clinically, her work is primarily in the assessment of developmental disorders and early intensive behavioral intervention therapy.

Lucia Herrera

Lucia Herrera

Administrative Coordinator

Lucia Herrera is an administrative coordinator who has recently joined the research department. She is currently overseeing the Metabolomics Study, across all Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) sites.

Roshan Amarashinghe

Roshan Amarasinghe

Data Analyst

Roshan Amarasinghe joined the Research and Development Department in 2015 and is involved with data analysis. He has an interest in finding trends and patterns in data for research purposes in order to improve patient treatment, as well as for business intelligence, in order to improve operational efficiency. He holds a bachelor’s in economics and an obsession for all things that involve data.

CJ Miyake

CJ Miyake

Game Designer

CJ Miyake received his Master of Education with an emphasis in technology from Azusa Pacific University. Prior to his role at PixelAtion Labs, CJ was a behavioral therapist and has over five years of experience directly assisting children with autism spectrum disorder.

CARD Careers CARD Careers


Autism is a journey, help be a guide.

CARD is dedicated to providing evidence based treatment to individuals with ASD and other related disorders.

All CARD therapists are encouraged to stay up­to­date with research on current best practices and have opportunities to obtain scholarships to conduct their own research protocols to further improve the lives of our clients. Joining our team of experienced professionals provides an excellent opportunity for research­oriented BCBAs to advance their careers by assisting with various ongoing projects, writing research proposals, and independently coordinating approved research studies with supervision.


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