[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]
Broad plan to aid fight on autism
|THE ASSOCIATED PRESS||Dec 18, 2003|
The government has developed a broad, decade-long research plan to help fight autism, including hunting genetic causes of the complex brain disorder and providing better educational services for children who have it.
Aiding the work will be a research partnership between government scientists and a parents’ group, the National Alliance for Autism Research.
The alliance, for several years, has been gathering databases of affected families for both the gene hunt and separate research to find ways to diagnose autism earlier. National Institutes of Health scientists will work with the group on those projects instead of having to start similar ones from scratch, a collaboration that the alliance said represented a joint commitment of more than $5 million.
Autism is a neurological disorder featuring a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe, that include problems communicating and with social interaction. Some studies suggest it might affect at least 40 per 10,000 U.S. children. That is 10 times higher than estimates a decade ago, which many scientists think reflects better diagnosis. The exact cause is unknown, although both genetics and environmental factors are suspected of playing a role.
Under demand from Congress, the NIH came up with a broad strategy to improve scientific understanding of autism and how to help patients. There are few specifics, and no details on how NIH will fund the work.
But the 10-year plan calls for a mix of research into biological markers that signal autism before the usual diagnosis around age 3; genetic and environmental causes; and exactly what behavioral, educational or other services best treat different degrees of autism.
Along with biomedical research, the plan calls for collaboration with the Education Department to improve families’ early access to important services.