The Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at UNC
The Carolina Institute includes:

Research Participant Registry Core


Help transform autism research

What is SPARK?

  • A growing community of more than 100,000 people with autism and their family members
  • A free on-line study which is completed at home
  • A dynamic way to connect with autism experts through webinars, videos and research studies

How to Join the SPARK Study

  • Read more and register at
  • Consent to share information about yourself and/or your child with autism and agree to be re-contacted for future studies (no obligation to participate).
  • Consent to provide a saliva sample (kits mailed to you with prepaid return mailer)
  • Complete online surveys

Who can participate in SPARK?

  • Children and adults with a professional diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder
  • Biological parents and full siblings of the individual with autism spectrum disorder

How is UNC involved with SPARK?

  • The Simons Foundation has partnered with 31 of the top autism research centers and academic institutions to enroll SPARK participants across the US.
  • Over 3,500 individuals with autism and their family members have enrolled at UNC.

What UNC families are saying about SPARK

“It was easy to do, and we enjoyed standing around the kitchen, our whole family spitting into the tubes! Just knowing that we could be a part of something bigger to help others is important to us.”

“Knowing the origins of autism might help develop better treatments and supports, which would improve the daily lives of people with autism. Also, if SPARK helps us demonstrate that autism has genetic origins, that is one step along the way to true autism acceptance.”

“There is conflicting information about what causes autism and how best to treat it. We feel we owe it to our son as well as to the many other families who have children with autism to find real answers through the best scientific research available."

Bringing Together
Families & Researchers

For Information about SPARK


Thank you for your interest in research at UNC.
If you have questions about SPARK or need help with your SPARK account, please email

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