SPARK’s mission is simple: to speed up research and advance our understanding of autism to help improve lives.

To learn more about SPARK and register online via a secure portal, visit

What is SPARK?

SPARK is the largest study of autism ever and will power autism research for years to come.

We believe that to find answers for you, we need to understand what makes you unique.

And what connects you with others.

We do this through studying genetic, behavioral, and medical information.

Who can join?

Are you the parent of a child with ASD? Join us!

Are you a person with an ASD diagnosis? We need you.

There is no cost to you and we keep your data private. 

How do you participate? 

1. Create an account online.

2. Invite family members.

3. Give a saliva sample for DNA analysis.

4. Discover and participate in new autism research opportunities.

How are SPARK and the University of Minnesota connected?

The University of Minnesota is partnered with SPARK through a grant from the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI). We help to recruit and enroll participants in SPARK. If you are affiliated with us during registration, you are able to receive one-on-one support with a SPARK team member. A SPARK team member can help you with any issues that may arise during registration; help with saliva collection; as well as supporting you and your family in setting up an appointment with a SPARK geneticist or one of our genetic counselors if you receive a genetic report through the study.

How does SPARK connect you with other autism research studies?

When you join SPARK, you agree to be contacted about other autism research studies that are relevant to you and your family. This is called, SPARK Research Match. In addition to the SPARK research that you participate in by submitting your saliva sample and completing tasks on your SPARK dashboard, SPARK provides our research participants with the opportunity to participate in studies led by researchers throughout the U.S. and elsewhere. A wide variety of research projects use SPARK Research Match to find potential participants for their studies.

SPARK’s Research Match speeds up autism research by ensuring that researchers can find the participants needed to successfully complete their studies, and participants get the chance to be represented in research and hear about studies that are appropriate for them.

What to Expect After Registration

After you register, a saliva kit will be shipped directly to your home with clear instructions for collection and return shipping. The kit includes a tube for collecting saliva, as well as an absorbent sponge that can be used for anyone who is not able to spit. If you prefer, you can provide a saliva sample in-person by scheduling an appointment with the CAN Lab by calling us at 612-624-0116 or sending us an email at [email protected].


SPARK registration

How to participate in SPARK

SPARK in Action!

SPARK at AuSM's Puzzle Event in November 2021

SPARK at AuSM's Puzzle Event in November 2020
SPARK at AuSM's Puzzle Event in November 2020