Autism Speaks and the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) have issued a call for researcher volunteers to join Autism Speaks' global outreach efforts. INSAR President Francesa Happe and Autism Speaks’ Andy Shih dubbed the new program “Autism Researchers without Borders,” during an announcement at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) this week.
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Over the last six years, Autism Speaks Global Autism Public Health Initiative (GAPH) has forged partnerships in more than 50 countries around the globe, from Albania to Vietnam. “With these expanding partnerships has come a huge increase in requests to Autism Speaks for technical support,” said Dr. Shih, Autism Speaks senior vice president for scientific affairs and the head of its global outreach efforts. “Tonight we are encouraging you to join us in creating a global task force of researchers who wish to change the lives of millions of individuals affected by autism worldwide, while at the same time advancing our understanding of autism risk factors, diagnostic methods and treatments.”
Autism affects an estimated 70 million individuals worldwide, the vast majority of whom live in countries with limited economic resources and few autism services. Through GAPH, Autism Speaks has reached out to governments and families around the world to help them identify the needs of their autism communities and develop practical and culturally appropriate services.
“Yet the success of GAPH relies on guidance and training from international experts willing to share the latest evidence-based autism science, while considering new approaches to delivering information,” Dr. Shih said.
Over the last six years, a number of volunteer researchers have accompanied Autism Speaks staff to serve in various capacities across dozens of countries. “We are thankful for their support,” Dr. Shih said. “But the demand has grown and so must our collective efforts.”
Autism Speaks and INSAR invite both senior researchers and graduate students beginning their research careers to learn more about the program and provide information on the types of autism programs and world regions that interest them. Potential volunteers are invited to learn more and to answer a few questions about their interests at www.autismspeaks.org/global.