Thoughts from the latest autism treatment grant review

Friday, July 27, 2012 View Comments Autism Speaks

John Elder Robison, a member of the Autism Speaks Scientific Advisory and Scientific Treatment Board, author, and advocate will be on tour promoting the softcover version of his acclaimed book Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian with Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers. You can pre-order this book here, before it release date on March 20, 2012.

I’ve just come from this summer’s Autism Speaks treatment grant review, and I’d like to share some thoughts about our most recent work.  I’m very pleased at the direction we are headed. Changes were evident the moment I entered the meeting room.  We had fresh faces representing new branches of science and engineering, and a real sense that we need to take action and translate recent years work into tangible benefit for the autistic population.

To understand what went on, I should begin with a little background on the review is conducted.  Most large foundations and the Federal government use a similar process; here’s how it works.

The funding organization first sends out a request for proposals.  In that, they spell out what they are looking for.  In this instance, Autism Speaks was looking for innovative proposals that led to new ways of treating or remediating some aspect of autistic disability. 

Researchers from all over submitted applications.  Over 100 came in. Of that number, roughly 70 were deemed suitable for serious consideration.  Those proposals were handed out to reviewers who had expertise in those areas of work.  Our reviewers are drawn from academia and medicine.; some serve as members of the permanent review board while others join for one session only. 

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