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Saturday, March 27, 2021

Federal Autism Research Priorities

 In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the sources of autism research funding -- including the Pentagon.

Lauren Harris, Daniel Gilmore, Anne Longo have a short report at Autism titled  "Patterns of US federal autism research funding during 2017–2019."  


In 2017, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, a federal advisory panel consisting of autism researchers and community members, recommended that funders of autism research prioritize research projects on: (1) treatments/interventions, (2) evidence-based services, and (3) lifespan issues. We sought to describe research funding since this recommendation was made. We searched the databases of the three largest federal funders of autism research in the United States (National Institutes of Health, Department of Education, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) for grants awarded during 2017–2019. We categorized grants as follows: autism screening and diagnosis, biology, risk factors, treatments and interventions, services, lifespan issues, or infrastructure and surveillance. We found that funding patterns remained largely consistent during 2017–2019. Biological research received a relative majority of funding (32.59%), followed by treatments and interventions (22.87%). While given higher funding priority by the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee’s recent budget recommendation, fewer funds were awarded to research areas like services (5.02%) and lifespan issues (2.51%), indicating a misalignment between funding patterns and the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee budget recommendation. These findings emphasize the need for autism research funding to align with the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee budget recommendations to best meet the needs of the autism community, particularly autistic younger, middle-aged, and older adults.