Landmark Autism Genetic Study Seeking Participants

 Chicago, IL, March, 2018 – Families affected by autism can participate in the nation's largest study to uncover important genetic links to the condition by attending an on-site registration and data collection event in Lisle, IL. The event will take place on April 7th from 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM at Giant Steps, a therapeutic day school for individuals with autism, located at 2500 Cabot Drive, Lisle, IL 60532. Participants with autism will receive up to $50 upon completion of the study.

The research project, called SPARK(Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge), is working to collect family information and DNA samples from 50,000 individuals with autism and their family members. In Chicago, SPARK has partnered exclusively with Rush University Medical Center.

Giant Steps' Executive Director, Dr. Sylvia Smith, was eager to lend a hand to further research that has the potential to benefit future families that may be impacted by autism.

"At Giant Steps our focus is improving the lives of those impacted by autism by enabling them to lead the most independent and fulfilling lives possible," Smith said. "The earlier we can begin working with individuals, the higher the chances of a productive outcome. This is why being able to identify autism as early as possible is critical to providing early intervention therapies."

At the collection events, families with a loved one on the autism spectrum are asked to fill out a short series of online forms sharing demographic, medical and behavior information and complete a DNA test consisting of a simple saliva sample gathered through spitting or check swabs. Participants are strongly encouraged to RSVP for the event in advance, however walk-ins are welcome.

To RSVP for the data collection event or for more information, contact Holly Lechniak at or (312) 563-2765.

If you are unable to attend, please visit to complete the entire study process from home.

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Saturday, 17 March 2018