NeuroVersity grew from iSTAR, the research component of our program. iSTAR involves multi-disciplinary educators from the University of Utah who are trained in education, autism, gerontology, speech pathology, behavior therapy, human development, family studies, psychology and disability studies. This multi-disciplinary background allows us to approach youth with autism from multiple perspectives, and provides a rich depth to the program.

As part of our research, we use focus groups, interviews, evaluation surveys with students, parents, family and community members, as well as coded video data. We have also involved the students in video participatory research. Students interview each other regarding their involvement in the program and our staff used video evaluations to capture what students think about their participation.

Our work has been recognized by professionals both within the autism research community and through publication of multiple peer reviewed papers on the curriculum, publications are listed below.

NeuroVersity has successfully offered a variety of short classes to different groups of students. Each time we offer a course, we consistently see huge growth in our student’s technical and social ability, and we see new areas where we can expand and improve the program. Over the next year our curriculum will become part of the Salt Lake school district’s curriculum and we hope to continue to expand rapidly.


Wright, C., Wright, S., Diener, M., Rafferty, D., & Sampson, A., An innovative university community collaboration for skill development and vocational exploration in 3D technology for students with autism. Accepted for publication in Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement, 2017.

Wright, C., Diener, M., Wright, S., Rafferty, D., & Taylor, A., Using peer teachers on the autism spectrum to teach 3D modeling skills. Submitted to Disability Studies Quarterly, 2016.

Diener, M., Wright, C., Wright, S. & Anderson, L. Tapping into tech talent: Using technology to facilitate personal, social, and vocational skills in youth with ASD, in Teresa Cardon (Ed.), Technology and Treatment of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Springer Autism and Child Psychopathology Series, 2016.

Dunn, L., Diener, M., Wright, C., & Wright, S. Social engagement among boys with ASD: Building on interests through an extracurricular technology-focused program. Work Journal, 2015.

Diener, M., Dunn, L., Wright, C., Linnell, L. & Newbold, K. A creative 3D design program: Building on interests through an extracurricular technology-focused program. Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 2015.

Diener, M., Wright, C., Linnell, L. & Dunn, L. Sibling relationships in families with a child with autism spectrum disorder in the context of everyday life and technology workshops. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 2014.

Wright, C., Wright, S., Diener, M. & Eaton, J. Autism spectrum disorder and the applied collaborative approach: A review of community based participatory research and participatory action research. Journal of Autism, 2014.
Diener, M., Wright, C., & Wright, S. Assessing visual-spatial creativity in youth on the autism spectrum. Creativity Research Journal, 26, 2014.

D’Astous, V., Wright, S., Wright, C., & Diener, M., Grandparents of grandchildren with autism spectrum disorders: influences on engagement, Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, 11, (2), 2013.

Wright, S., D’Astous, V., Wright, C., & Diener, M. Grandparents of grandchildren with autism spectrum disorders (ASD): Strengthening relationships through technology activities. The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 75 (2), 2012.

Wright, C., Diener, M., Dunn, L., Wright, S., SketchUp: A technology tool to facilitate intergenerational family relationships for children with autism spectrum disorders. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 40, 2, 135-149, 2011.


Entrepreneurial U of U Faculty Scholar, 2014-present

Professors Off Campus Award (2015-2016)

Social Enterprise Award (2014)

Nominated for Utah Innovation Award, by U of U Technology Venture Commercialization (TVC, 2015)