(December 13, 2017) Autism Speaks today released its Strategic Plan for Science 2018-2020, with emphasis on the organization’s mission to enhance lives today and accelerate a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.

“We want see the decade ahead delivering personalized therapies and services that meet the needs of people across the autism spectrum and the life span, says Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Thomas Frazier. “This includes increasing access to early childhood screening and intervention, to services that decrease the impact of co-occurring medical and mental health problems, and to programs that improve the transition into adulthood.”

“This plan renews our commitment to be an engine that drives cutting-edge science and paves the way for personalized autism care,” adds Autism Speaks President and Chief Executive Officer Angela Geiger. “These advances in research will help transform the landscape for people affected by autism, accelerating progress toward new and improved options that will enhance the quality of life now and in the future.”

The strategic plan’s priorities were shaped by guidance from leading autism researchers, healthcare providers, people on the autism spectrum and their families. Earlier this year, Autism Speaks collected direct input from the autism community through a 20-question, online Science Planning Survey, open to the public and completed by more than 6,000 people.

The plan’s priority objectives include:

Support research that deepens understanding of autism’s causes, including basic research on the biological processes that lead to many different types of autism and their associated physical and mental health conditions.

* Support studies that translate these basic discoveries into promising personalized treatments and services ready to be evaluated in pilot studies.

Foster opportunities for clinical testing of promising treatments, individual services and public health programs, with an emphasis on serving underserved communities at home and abroad.

Improve the measurement of autism and its associated features to enhance screening, diagnosis, subgroup identification and the tracking of change during clinical trials and across the life span.

Promote consensus-building in autism research and healthcare by facilitating engagement among professionals and with the autism community, with the goal of speeding and expanding the delivery of effective, evidence-based care and services.

Continually review research areas and Autism Speaks science activities to identify those ripe for culmination or transition to other funding sources and to ensure that new research funding complements rather than duplicates that by other funding organizations. In this way, Autism Speaks can best fulfill its signature role of supporting highly innovative research in its early stages, identifying the most promising discoveries and therapies for expanded support by larger funders such as the National Institutes of Health.

* Broadly and effectively communicate our science strategic plan and ongoing progress against its goals, with an emphasis on engaging with the autism community.

“The plan released today is a living document,” Dr. Frazier emphasizes. “We will continue to review progress and incorporate feedback in the coming years.”

Read the full Autism Speaks Strategic Plan for Science 2018-2020, including the proposed activities to achieve the above objectives here.

On Dec 14, Dr. Frazier answered questions about the Strategic Plan for Science as part of a Facebook Live chat with Autism Speaks Chief Program and Marketing Officer Lisa Goring. View the archived webchat here.

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