Meet Massimo


April is Autism Awareness Month, and to mark the occasion, we are shining a spotlight on the stories of individuals and their families who make our work possible, and who provide hope and support for the autism community. Our thanks to everyone who keeps this community strong, supportive, hopeful, and compassionate. We celebrate and appreciate each of you- this month and throughout the year.

Meet Massimo

Meet Franco

Meet Grace and Gabriel

Meet Anthony

Meet Ben

Meet Massimo

Families participate in autism research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for many reasons. Some are looking for answers and a better understanding of autism. Some want to “give back” by volunteering for research. Some hope to find ways to make their lives a little easier. But most do not expect to receive another diagnosis. Especially not a diagnosis of seizures.

That’s what happened to Massimo and his family. After learning of Massimo’s autism diagnosis, his family decided to volunteer for a research study using magnetoencephalography (MEG scan) to understand how the brain processes information. While undergoing the painless scan, it revealed Massimo was also having seizures.

“We never saw Massi have a seizure — but the test did,” says his mom, Alexa D’Amato Barrera. “We never would have even known about the disorder, or been able to treat it, if it wasn’t for our participation in this study by the Center for Autism Research.”

When the Philadelphia Eagles announced the Eagles Autism Challenge, the Barrera’s signed up immediately – they wanted a way to give back for the care they received and support autism research at CHOP. Read more about Massimo and his family.