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A.J. Drexel Autism Institute Featured in the IACC Top 20 Research Papers

Screenshot of the IACC report. There are four separate photos of individuals featured in circles.

December 14, 2023

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) is a federal advisory committee that Congress created to accelerate progress in autism research and services. They work to improve coordination and communication across the federal government and partner with the autism community. The Committee plays a crucial role in guiding Health and Human Services initiatives and collaborating with federal bodies, research institutions, advocacy groups, and the broader autism community to expedite research and enrich services, ultimately aiming to enhance the lives of individuals on the autism spectrum and their families.

Each year, the IACC releases a list of scientific advances representing significant progress in autism research. They recently released their 2022 Summary of Advances in Autism Research. This publication provides short, plain-language summaries of the top 20 advances in autism biomedical and services research selected by members of the IACC. The A.J. Drexel Autism Institute led 3 of the 20 papers selected. Authors of the publications include Matthew Lerner, PhD, Life Course Outcomes Program Leader and Associate Professor, Lindsay Shea, DRPH, Policy, Analytics, and Community Research Program Leader, and Sha Tao, MPH, Data Analyst, in the areas of Lifespan and Social Development.

Matthew Lerner's publication Quantifying Social Skills and Strengths Profiles in Autistic Youth looks at the considerable social strengths that autistic youth exhibit and how, when autistic youth do struggle socially, these difficulties far more often arise from performing social behaviors that they know and see as important, rather than with knowing the “correct” things to do. This work advances the measurement and understanding of the rich complexity of social behavior in autistic and non-autistic youth, moving beyond the more basic conception of “good” versus “bad” social skills.

In the Lifespan topic, Sha Tao and Lindsay Shea had two publications featured, the first being Co-Occuring Conditions and Racial-Ethnic Disparities: Medicaid Enrolled Adults on the Autism Spectrum. This publication looked at Medicaid data that suggests that rates of co-occurring health conditions among autistic adults, which occur more often than in non-autistic peers, differ based on race and ethnicity. Tao and Shea also authored Medicaid Disruption Among Transition-age Youth on the Autism Spectrum. This publication looks at the lack of lifelong Medicaid coverage for autistic adults in many states, which leads to higher rates of coverage loss and lower re-enrollment compared to non-autistic peers with intellectual disabilities.

To read the featured publications or view the report in its entirety, visit the IACC website.