UCR Search Autism Center



Smooth Sailing I

Under the direction of Dr. Jan Blacher, Professor in the Graduate School of Education, the SEARCH center is currently analyzing data from nearly 200 children diagnosed with Autism or ASD between the ages of 4-7 years old. The goal of the study is to identify factors that contribute to positive school experiences in early schooling for children on the spectrum.

One of the key factors identified was a positive student-teacher relationship.  This is especially important for those young children with ASD in general education classes (that is, mainstreamed for 50% or more of the day.)

Smooth Sailing II

This goal of this follow-up study to Smooth Sailing I is to develop an intervention to improve student-teacher relationships. What is unique to this program is the involvement of teachers as consultants who advise on the content, direction, usability and feasibility of the program. Teachers also are involved in pilot testing the intervention.

For more information about the Smooth Sailing (I and II), please visit: https://sites.google.com/view/smoothsailing

Collaborative Family Study (CFS)

The Collaborative Family Study (CFS) is a longitudinal study (funded by NICHD) between UCR and UCLA which consists of over 200 families. The current follow-up study is led by Drs.  Jan Blacher at  UCR and Bruce L. Baker at UCLA.  The current research focus is on the mental health and well-being of young adults and parents during this transition time. The participants are young adults with autism, intellectual disability, or typical development.

PEERS® Study

The goal of this study is to explore the effects of a well-studied social skills intervention on brain activity. We will be using the PEERS Intervention, and measuring adolescents' brain activity before and after they participate. This intervention involves the participation of young teens in a weekly social skills group; their parents, too, participate in a simultaneous group for 12-16 weeks. Both teens with ASD and neurotypical children were recruited for participation in the brain activity portion of the study.


The Social Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience (SCDN) Lab aims to conduct translational studies that explore the reward system in individuals with ASD, as well as how anxiety contributes to social deficits in ASD. In addition, the PEERS intervention (described above) is used to measure adolescents' brain activity using EEG before and after they participate. Website: https://scdnlab.ucr.edu/