The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) has released a report detailing the remarkable advances in autism research in recent years. The report is being touted as the most comprehensive summary of trends in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) research, including gaps and improvements. The report is set to have a major impact on autism research and even set new criteria for diagnosing autism.
Upon the President’s signing of the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) in September 2011, the IACC’s first plan of action was to update on the IACC Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorders Research. During its first official meeting in July 2012, the IACC developed a timeline and strategy guide to establish specific objectives in an attempt to answer questions that still remain unanswered about ASD. These objectives include: screening and diagnosis, the underlying biology of ASD, risk factors, treatments and interventions, services, lifespan issues, and surveillance and infrastructure.
Since its re-establishment in 2011, the IACC’s attempt to publish current findings has been delayed due to the inundation of new material in the field. According to the PubMed database of biomedical research, more than 1,000 ASD papers or imaging have been published since January 2011. The IACC report highlights many of these new findings and advances in the understanding of ASD.
“It is clear… that recent investments in ASD research and increasing coordination in the community are paying off,” said Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health and chair of the IACC.
Although Committee members caution that there is still a long way to go (especially in the areas of autism sevices), the strides researchers are making in ASD study—brain imaging and bio markers, neurophysiology investigation, immune system and immune pathway and co-occurring conditions—are fascinating.