In addition to our many science research grants, Autism Speaks is extremely proud to fund important new or expanding programs for individuals with autism.
In 2010 a $25,000 grant was awarded to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA. Entitled "DriveAdvise", the project entailed the development of a toolkit and an educational video to facilitate decisions about whether an individual with ASD might consider driving in the future.
The video focuses on interviews with a variety of stakeholder groups including ASD individuals, family members, healthcare providers, ASD community leaders and driving instructors who have had experience in helping ASD individuals become safe and licensed drivers. It provides an overview of the unique challenges that ASD individuals encounter when contemplating the decision to drive and aspects of cognitive, perceptual and emotional functions that should be probed in assessments regarding driving competence. The film also features stories of those who have chosen not to drive with emphasis on strategies they and their families have used to maintain independence. The toolkit (not yet completed) will include cognitive and perceptual tests that have been used in the driving literature to predict safe driving. Standard measures will include tasks of motor functions, visual attention, vigilance and speed of response. Novel assessment approaches will also be studied, such as the creation of a set of short video clips of different driving scenarios. The video clips will aid in the assessment about the individual's capacity to grapple with critical aspects of driving that involve “reading” the traffic environment and the nonverbal signals of pedestrians on sidewalks and crosswalks. The toolkit will also be featured in the educational video. Importantly, the educational materials and all outreach efforts will stress the critical importance of balancing safety with independence. For those individuals with ASD who remain non-drivers, materials from DriveAdvise will emphasize strategies for promoting maximum independence and self esteem that are not linked to driving.
Click here to learn more about DriveWise and DriveAdvise.
Our Family Services Community Grants focus on programs that address three areas of need: Education; Recreation and Community Activities; and Young Adult and Adult Services. Since 2007, we have awarded over $3.7 million for 172 grants across the country. In this section, we will highlight specifically those programs that serve young adults and adults on the spectrum. To learn more about all of the grants we’ve funded to date, please visit our Grants Database and search Family Services.