Marquette Autism Project (MAP)


Dr. Amy Vaughan Van Hecke
Marquette University
Department of Psychology

Cramer Hall, 359
604 N. 16th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233

Phone: (414) 288-4438
Fax: (414) 288-5333


Thank you

The Marquette PEERS Study

This study aims to understand how teenagers with autism spectrum disorder and their parents are affected by social skills therapy, the Program for the Enrichment and Education of Relational Skills, or PEERS. PEERS is an evidence-based, manualized, 14-week, outpatient treatment program developed at the University of California at Los Angeles. Dr. Van Hecke is certified by UCLA to provide the PEERS program at Marquette University. PEERS study groups begin every January and August, and are provided at no charge to research participants. Free parking is available at Marquette University.

Who can participate?

The study invites teens, aged 11-16, with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and a parent or guardian to participate. Teens need to speak English competently, using full sentences, to derive the best benefit from the program. Parents and teens will participate in an intake session where eligibility will be determined. Due to limited group size, some teens maybe placed on a waiting list for inclusion in the next PEERS group.

The study also invites teens without ASD or other disorders, aged 11-16, and their parent or guardian, to participate. Teens and parents need to speak English competently to participate in the study.

How long does the study last?

The study will take place in the Department of Psychology, Center for Psychological Services, at Marquette University, and at Froedtert Hospital.

For teens with ASD, the intake sessions, which last about 4 hours, will include one visit to Marquette for questionnaires and behavioral assessments, and two visits to Froedtert Hospital for MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). The first visit to Froedtert will consist of a 30-minute orientation to the MRI and a practice scan.  Teens who are comfortable with the practice scan will be invited back to Froedtert for a one-hour long session where they will play a computer game and watch a movie while in the MRI scanner. 

Teens and parents will then participate in the PEERS treatment sessions. Evening sessions are once weekly, for 1.5 hours, for 14 weeks. Parents meet concurrently in a separate group to support their teen’s learning of skills. After the 14 weeks of PEERS is completed, parents and teens will participate in a follow-up session, where many of the same measures from intake will be repeated.

For teens without ASD, the intake session, which lasts about 3 hours, will include completion of questionnaires, behavioral assessments, and a one-hour long MRI. Teens without ASD will not participate in the PEERS program. After 16 weeks, parents and teens will participate in a follow-up session, where many of the same measures from intake will be repeated.

What are the benefits?

The study will allow you to contribute to the understanding of ASD, and of how teens who are successful in the program may change behaviorally and neurologically. PEERS intervention will be provided free of charge to eligible teens with ASD and parents. Teens with and without ASD will be provided with a $15 gift card for each hour spent in research participation, and parents will be reimbursed for or provided with free parking.

Who do I contact?

For more information or to schedule an intake, please fill out the contact form below, or call the Marquette Autism Project at 414-288-4438. Please mention that you are interested in the PEERS study.



Contact the Marquette Autism Clinic

If you are interested in receiving an evaluation or have further questions about our services, please contact the Marquette Autism Clinic at (414) 288-4438, or contact us on our online form. We will reply to your request for information within two weeks.