Research Projects


Research at May Institute is conducted in multiple areas. These include:

  • Capacity building in public schools
  • Program evaluation/systems change
  • Treatment of food selectivity and refusal
  • Assessment and treatment of severe challenging behavior
  • Methods for increasing communication and social interaction

Current Research Projects

Students with Autism Accessing General Education

Autistic students can present with many challenges that teachers often are ill-prepared to respond to. Dr. Cynthia Anderson is Principal Investigator for the Massachusetts site of a multi-state project funded by the U.S. Department of Education to help teachers better meet that challenge. In this project, Dr. Anderson is evaluating effects of an individualized framework for delivering evidence-based interventions in public schools.


National Standards Project: State of the Evidence for School-based Interventions

The National Standards Project was a review of the literature to identify evidence-based practices for addressing core and associated features of ASD. Dr. Cynthia Anderson and Dr. Ryan Martin are updating this review and expanding it in several ways including:

  • analyzing contextual variables that may affect implementation and outcomes of school-based interventions
  • asssessing the extent to which social validity was assessed and affected outcomes
  • conducting a meta-analysis to determine effect sizes for different interventions


Recently Completed Projects

Assessment and Treatment of Problem Behavior for Adults with Disabilities

Much of the research on function-based support has been conducted with children and adolescents with disabilities and important questions remain regarding the feasibility of evidence-based methods of assessment and treatment in adult service settings. Dr. Cynthia Anderson is leading a research project in several of our May Centers for Adult Services sites to evaluate several different methods of functional analysis and identify barriers and enablers to effective function-based support. Helping with the study are Dr. Sarah Weddle, Director of Outreach and Behavioral Support and Adult Services Clinical Director, Meg Walsh.


Autism Intervention Modules (AIM) for Families

Parents and other caregivers desire evidence-based interventions to help their children at home. Although parent training interventions exist, they often require extensive time commitments. Dr. Ryan Martin and Dr. Cynthia Anderson are evaluating a novel approach to home-based intervention for children with ASD that uses video modeling and teleconferencing to support caregivers in implementing a variety of intervention modules that are tailored to meet the goals of individual children.