Current Research

Healthy Relationships for Transition-Age Youth on the Autism Spectrum  (HEARTS) (funded by NIH)

This study is currently open and recruiting new participants. This project is collecting interview (i.e., qualitative) data from youth on the spectrum ages 16-22 years old to find out what challenges they experience in maintaining healthy relationships with peers, co-workers, roommates, and dating partners. Data are also being collected from parents and providers. In the second phase of the research, we will pilot-test a six-session online healthy relationships class for individuals on the spectrum.

Alcohol Use By Underage Youth on the Autism Spectrum (funded by NIH)

This study is currently open and recruiting new participants. This project is collecting interview (i.e., qualitative) data from youth on the spectrum ages 16-20 years old to find out whether, why and how they use alcohol. In the second phase of the research, our team will collect survey (i.e., quantitative) data from neurotypical and autistic youth to compare underage alcohol use patterns and drinking styles by autism status.

Development of a New Measure of Adolescent Dating Aggression: National Norms with a Focus on Marginalized Youth (funded by NIJ)

This mixed methods study will address the critical gaps that have been identified in existing measures of ADA by generating three new developmentally-staged measures of victimization and perpetration, tested with a national sample of youth, and subsequently creating short-forms that can be used for rapid screening by practitioners.  This project will result in the creation of new, reliable, valid, vetted ADA measurement tools for the field for both research and practice.  The new instruments will be designed to minimize systematic differences in responses to ADA survey questions that may be tied to individuals’ gender, race/ethnicity, or sexual orientation, while modernizing, expanding, contextualizing, and otherwise improving the quality and nature of the items, so that valid inferences about youth experiences of ADA can be made more easily.

Pornography Literacy Curriculum Pilot (not funded)

Pornography, also called sexually explicit media, is nearly ubiquitous and frequently viewed by adolescents and even pre-teens.  In recent years “media literacy” programs have been developed to educate youth about ways in which advertisements, TV programs, movies and song lyrics can shape their thinking and behavior.  Sexually explicit media is a sub-type of media that also deserves its own form of literacy education so that youth have some context for interpreting what they view and for making informed choices about what they view, when, and why.  Dr. Rothman has co-authored a 5-session pornography literacy curriculum for high school-age youth with two youth development and healthy relationship experts from the Boston Public Health Commission.  That curriculum has now been pilot-tested with rounds of teenagers, including with one group of specifically GLBTQ+ youth.  Our team designed a pre- and post-test to evaluate knowledge, attitude and behavior change that participants may experience as a result of the class.  Peer-reviewed published evaluation study:

View some teens who took the pornography literacy class talking about what they learned here: