The federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) has released its 2013 Strategic Plan Update. The report provides an accounting of goals met in autism research since 2009, when the committee issued its original Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder Research. In those five years, federal agencies, private organizations and companies have invested approximately $1.5 billion in autism research.
"The state of the science has dramatically changed in the ASD field over the last five years,” says IACC Chair Tom Insel. Dr. Insel also directs the National Institute of Mental Health. “The 2013 Strategic Plan Update provides an accounting of that change through investments and the evolution of research since the 2009,” he adds. “This investment has translated to progress in all seven research areas outlined by the [original] plan."
In the report, the IACC breaks down these seven target areas into answers to seven key questions about autism, as follows:
In most research areas, the committee concluded that additional investment is needed to achieve goals. In addition, the committee identified several emerging needs as critical for accelerating autism research in the next five years. These include:
* Transferring the best screening tools, interventions and services from research settings to broad community use.
* Promoting inclusion of research subjects from a broader range of disabilities, ages and communities, with an emphasis on underserved populations.
* Translating "practice to research," by encouraging study of current clinical practices to inform research studies.
* Developing a more personalized treatment approach to autism by characterizing the many underlying causes, biologies and associated health conditions.
* Standardizing the ways in which outcomes are measured in clinical trials to better determine the effectiveness of interventions and services.
The IACC press release accompanying the report concludes: “Overall, the committee hopes that this latest IACC Strategic Plan Update will provide Congress, federal agencies, advocates and people with autism and their families with helpful information about important research progress that has been made to date, as well as areas that need further attention, in order to support a robust research effort that will lead to enhanced interventions, services and opportunities for people with autism across cultures, across the full spectrum of ability, and across the lifespan.
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