What should the nation prioritize to advance research on the treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD)? On the diagnosis of autism? Risk factors for autism? The biology autism? Or other areas?
The National Institute of Mental Health has issued a request for information to members of the autism community asking for information on what community members believe should be the priorities for autism research.
The deadline for submitting information is January 4, 2008. The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee established by the Combating Autism Act of 2006 will use the input to develop a strategic plan. The request is aimed at people with autism spectrum disorders, their families, advocates, scientists health professionals, therapists, educators, state and local programs for ASD, and the general public.
You can read the request for information here. An excerpt from the document explains:
The Combating Autism Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-416) re-established the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) and requires that the IACC develop a strategic plan for ASD research. The IACC includes both Federal and public members who are active in the area of ASD research funding, services, or advocacy. In its inaugural meeting on November 30, 2007, the IACC approved a process for developing the strategic plan that includes multiple opportunities for stakeholder input. This RFI is a first step in receiving broad input at the beginning stages of plan development.
To identify research priorities for possible inclusion in the strategic plan for ASD research, the IACC will convene several scientific workshops in January 2008. The responses received through this RFI will be collated, summarized, and provided to workshop participants. The scientific workshops will be organized around four broad areas of ASD research:
- Treatment – includes ASD treatment, intervention, and services research that aim to reduce symptoms, promote development, and improve outcomes. This area includes the development and evaluation of medical, behavioral, educational, and complementary interventions for ASD. In addition, this area includes research studies that evaluate the effectiveness of treatments in real world settings, disparities in ASD treatment among specific subpopulations, practice patterns in ASD programs and services, and their cost-effectiveness.
- Diagnosis – is concerned with the accurate and valid description of ASD (phenotype) both at the individual and the population level. The public health impact of ASD can be better understood by such studies. In addition, this area concerns itself with the diversity of what constitutes ASD and the characteristics of the condition over the lifespan.
- Risk Factors – has to do with investigations of the factors that contribute to the risk of having an ASD in a given person or population. This includes genetic studies of clusters or sporadic occurrences of ASD, studies that focus on environmental factors, e.g., intrauterine events or exposure to toxins, which could lead to ASD, and the interaction between these factors that concentrate risk for ASD.
- Biology –studies the underlying biological processes that lead to developmental and medical problems associated with ASD. This includes research in the area of neurosciences but does not confine itself to neurosciences. Therefore, research on other organ systems, interactions between organ systems, and/or other disease processes are included in this area.
The development of the strategic plan is expected to take approximately six months and will include several additional opportunities for public input.
Send your ideas to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read the guidelines before doing so, such as the need to mark proprietary information and the requested two-page limit for comments.
* Advocates, Parents Among Those Appointed to Autism Committee at National Institutes of Health