Oakland University Center for Autism
Pawley Hall, Room 425C
456 Pioneer Dr.
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(248) 370-2424


Research is an important part of the academic process and provides faculty, students and service providers with important information about how to think about and support individuals and families with autism spectrum disorders.
HAI Research Study: OUCARES and Quality of Life: how dogs assist families living with autism spectrum disorders 
  • Dr. Darlene Groomes, Associate Professor of Education, Oakland University; Andrew Clemons; Sandra Hulme; Kelly Kort; Dr. Gary Mesibov, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This experimental pilot-study utilized quantitative measures to evaluate the effect of a human-animal interaction social skills program, using a trained assistance dog named Magic, on the social skills, social anxiety, and adaptation to disability of adolescents living with an autism spectrum disorder. Additional qualitative analyses were conducted to analyze emerging themes from participant questionnaires. Participant conduct and social behavior in the program setting were coded for analysis. Ongoing analysis of the quantitative data shows non-significant findings. However, findings relating to participants’ use of social skills approaches statistical significance, which warrants further investigation. Qualitative analysis has found emerging themes of self-assurance and openness toward others in the participant questionnaires. The ongoing coding analysis indicates that, when environmental factors are controlled, participants in the experimental group demonstrate increased social behaviors when compared to the control group. This study would not have been possible without the enthusiastic support of OUCARES; our participants and their families; our instructors, Rebecca Anders and Angela Lijewski; Beth and Gary Spanski of Diamonds In-The-Ruff Dog Training; and our amazing assistance dog, Magic. This research team wishes to thank everyone involved in this endeavor. Thank you for the role you played in helping discover new and exciting ways to improve the quality of life for individuals and families living with ASD. 

  • UPDATE: Dr. Groomes, Andrew Clemons, Sandra Hulme, and Kelly Kort presented at the APSE annual conference (Association of People Supporting Employment-First) in Indianapolis in June 2013 on how assistance dogs can improve meaningful employment outcomes for individuals living with ASD.
"Identifying the Supports that Promote Success for College Students with Asperger’s Syndrome," Janet Graetz, Assistant Professor of Education
This study, funded by the Organization for Autism Research (OAR), will follow 15-20 students with Asperger’s Syndrome attending Oakland University, investigate their college experience, and identify the supports that promote success. 

"The Use of Video Eyewear for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders," Janet Graetz, Assistant Professor of Education
This study in Macomb County investigates the use of video modeling and video eyewear as instructional tools for adolescents with ASD. 

"The Role of Spirituality in the Lives of Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome," Janet Graetz, Assistant Professor of Education
This project utilized qualitative methods to investigate the role of spirituality and religion for five adults with Asperger’s Syndrome. 

"Opportunities for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders," Janet Graetz, Assistant Professor of Education
This study presents the results of a survey of 143 families supporting a family member over the age of 18 with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The survey explored the needs of families supporting adults with autism and the opportunities afforded adults with autism in areas of socialization, employment and residential living.
Nancy Cool

"The Effect of Peer Models in Promoting Appropriate Play Skills and the Expansion of Play choices for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder," Nancy L. Cool, Master of Education (OU, 2007)
This study observed the effects of peer modeling on promoting appropriate play skills and the expansion of play choices for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).