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Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology
LifeSPAN Autism Lab

LifeSPAN Autism Lab

About the LifeSPAN Autism Lab

The Lifespan Symptom Profiles, Achievements & Needs in Autism (LifeSPAN Autism) Lab is led by Dr. Vanessa H. Bal.

Dr. Bal's research aims to advance understanding of autism in adulthood. By emphasizing a lifespan perspective, the lab encompasses four broad research areas:

  1. Defining meaningful achievements and specific needs of autistic adults;
  2. Characterizing how autism manifests across the range of cognitive and language abilities at varying developmental stages across the lifespan;
  3. Identifying behavioral, biological and contextual factors that affect longer-term adult outcomes;
  4. Developing and adapting approaches to support the well-being of autistic adults.

Across these areas, research in the lab strives to develop and refine methods to assess and quantify individual strengths and challenges. This includes projects to evaluate methods that may be useful in screening and diagnosis, tracking of symptoms across development, and evaluating response to treatment. By emphasizing a multidimensional, lifespan perspective, this work aims to delineate relationships between dimensions of social-communication, language, cognition and emotion in the context of neurodevelopmental disorders in order to inform the development of targeted interventions that capitalize on individual strengths in order to promote well-being for individuals with Autism across the lifespan.

Dr Jessica Bal

Validation of the Autism Diagnostic Interview - Third Edition

  • Recruiting participants between the ages of 10 to 35 who are seeking a diagnosis of ASD or have a previous diagnosis of ASD 
  • Must have a parent or caregiver willing to participate
  • Multiple visits:
    • For participant to complete questionnaires and complete a 2-3 hour assessment
    • For the participant's parent or caregiver to complete questionnaires and complete two 2-4 hour interviews
    • For a 1-hour feedback session to review test results
  • Families can receive $75 for participation along with a brief written summary of test results. 

Interested in learning more? Please look at this flyer for more information, and complete our interest survey here

LifeSPAN Lab

Group Behavioral Activation Treatment

  • Recruiting participants between the ages of 18 to 40 who are seeking help managing depression, anxiety, or anger via telehealth. 
  • Eligible people:
    • Live in New Jersey or New York
    • Have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder 
    • Can speak and read English fluently 
    • Have access to a computer or device with camera and internet 
  • Participants will be asked to complete: 
    • Questionnaires and 7 individual assessment visits 
    • 5 brief check-ins
    • 10 group therapy sessions 
  • Participants can receive up to $345 for completion of assessments. 

Interested in learning more? Please look at this flyer for more information, complete our screening survey and email us at @LifeSPANLab@gsapp.rutgers.edu.

LifeSPAN-Lab

Student Perspective

"My experience doing research at the LifeSPAN Lab here at Rutgers has been really enriching. The aims of our research center around relevant aspects of community life and help to advance our understanding of individuals with autism and how to best support them. Being able to participate in research studies has given me insight into the successes and challenges in our field regarding growing clinical populations such as the autistic population. My roles in our lab's research have been extremely meaningful to me and have helped me grow as a future professional by providing me with perspectives that I had not been exposed to from coursework alone.” Eden Keinan, MAP Graduate, Class of 2023; GSAPP Clinical PsyD Student

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Resources

The Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services (RCAAS) Psychological Services Clinic (PSC) is a training clinic that provides assessment and psychological services for autistic adults. Learn more information regarding the clinic and the services offered.

Autism Resources 

Local Autism Resources

Mental Health Guide for Autistic College Students

Dr. Bal's video on Autism Diagnosis

If you are experiencing a medical or psychological emergency, please call 911, 988 (Suicide and Crisis Lifeline), or present to your nearest emergency room for evaluation and treatment.

Please note these are informational only. Inclusion of these links should not be considered direct referrals or endorsement of these sites.

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Training

We offer a variety of training opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students! If you are interested in joining the lab, please complete this survey and email the Lifespan ASD Lab (lifespanlab@gsapp.rutgers.edu) with your resume/CV and 2-3 sentences regarding your interest. 

Dr. Bal mentors students in the MAP program, as well as both the PsyD and PhD Clinical Psychology programs at Rutgers.

Dr. Bal teaches several RU classes:

  1. First Year Byrne Seminar Perspectives Autism in Adulthood: For more information, visit: https://rcaas.rutgers.edu/PSC/perspectives-on-autism-in-adulthood
  2. A Multidisciplinary Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorder (18.544.513) This course provides a broad overview of research related to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) across a wide range of professional disciplines (e.g., psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience, genetics).

  3. Special Topics: Autism Spectrum Disorder in Adulthood (18.544.514) This course provides an overview of clinical issues and research related to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in adulthood.

Contact

Email: LifeSPANlab@gsapp.rutgers.edu

Phone: (848) 445-9384

If you are seeking clinical services or would like to make a referral, please visit the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services Psychological Services Clinic website here.

*If you are experiencing a medical or psychological emergency, please call 911, 988 (Suicide and Crisis Lifeline), or present to your nearest emergency room for evaluation and treatment.