Autism is a highly heritable neurodevelopmental condition that affects 1 in 54 children in the United States and co-occurs more frequently with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than with any other mental health condition in children. Approximately 30-75% of autistic children have symptoms of ADHD. However, studies on the co-occurrence of autism and ADHD are complicated by the fact that while both conditions have an age-of-onset during early childhood, autism is typically diagnosed earlier (i.e., ages 1-4) than ADHD. This means that many young autistic children might also develop ADHD symptoms later on, which has its own set of pharmacological and psychosocial interventions that are unique from those for autism. Evidence-based treatments that are tailored for autistic children with ADHD have yet to emerge.

The University of Wisconsin Longitudinal Imaging and Neurogenetics in Kids Study (UW LINK Study) is an NICHD-funded project follows approximately 120 autistic children aged 4-7 (at Time 1) for three years. The purpose of this research is to identify biological, motor, cognitive and behavioral features for an early screening and diagnosis of ADHD, where early interventions for these disorders can significantly reduce the long-term negative impact on autistic individuals and their families. This study will take an innovative, multi-faceted approach to investigating the etiological mechanisms co-occurring ADHD in autistic children through the use of genomics, behavioral phenotyping, neuroimaging, stem cells, and machine learning.

The UW LINK Study is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (P50HD105353).

Representative publications:


 UW LINK Study Flyer

We are recruiting families to participate in our IRB-approved study who have children who:

  • Received a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder
  • Are between the ages of 4 and 7
  • Are fluent in English
  • Live with at least one biological parent

What does participation involve?

Eligible families will visit our lab at the Waisman Center at UW-Madison once per year over the course of three years.  Each visit will last 3.5 to 4 hours and will include the following activities:


  • Cognitive and behavioral tests
  • Interactive activities on a tablet
  • A short (10 minute to 1 hour) MRI scan


  • Questionnaires and interview about your child’s behavior at home and school

Parent and Child:

  • Saliva samples for DNA analysis

What are the benefits?

You will receive:

  • No direct benefits (i.e., we provide no clinical diagnosis or treatment)
  • Up to $120 for your full participation, plus an additional bonus each year
  • A toy prize for your child

If you are interested in learning more about our research or have any other questions, please fill out our interest form or reach out to the team directly by email at at uwlinkstudy@waisman.wisc.edu or call us at 608-265-7938.

This study is approved by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Health Sciences Institutional Review Board (IRB#2021-0316, PIs: James Li and Brittany Travers).