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How We're Different

We Focus on Discovering Strategies that Improve Outcomes

Little attention is paid to the connection between efforts to improve quality of life for people on the autism spectrum and outcomes. A stronger connection needs to exist between the two if we’re going to understand how well we’re helping people.

The Life Course Outcomes Research Program is pioneering research that will help better determine if practices already underway are making an impact, while also examining innovative new practices as they emerge in our field.

Before our team began this work, our nation’s conversation and policy-making surrounding autism was much like a car without a dashboard. We had no way of knowing how far we’d gone, how fast we were moving or what direction we were headed. By focusing our research at the population and community levels, we are able to provide benchmark information to better inform policies and action at the national level. For example, our inaugural volume of the National Autism Indicators Report focuses on the transition into young adulthood, presenting evidence about a wide range of experiences and outcomes of young adults on the spectrum between high school and their early 20s. 

A Life Course Perspective

An autism diagnosis typically marks the start of a lifelong journey of seeking help and finding opportunities to improve quality of life.  Many people on the autism spectrum rely on various services and supports throughout their lifetime. Research documenting how life unfolds for  people with autism is virtually nonexistent, and what does exist reports less than optimal life outcomes.

Our “life course” approach encompasses a person’s entire life span. The experiences of receiving a diagnosis, accessing needed services, transitioning into adulthood, finding employment, continuing education and participating in the community can be vital stepping stones on the path to a high-quality life.

We measure access, quality and outcomes of services at the community and population levels. Understanding the experiences and needs of people on the autism spectrum is key to determining how we can improve their overall quality of life.

A Public Health Approach

We’re interested in improving lives. We want to inform action and measure its impact at community, state and national levels.

The field of public health science values collaborative research to solve complex problems. Our interdisciplinary approach helps us produce actual improvements to quality of life for people on the autism spectrum.

Our Four Major Initiatives

There is an urgent need for more information on how life unfolds for people on the autism spectrum, and how the services available to them are working. We aim to find out through our four major research initiatives.

Community and National Indicators - Assessing indicators of community and national-level services and outcomes.

Emerging Practices - Examining innovative approaches to creating positive life outcomes for people on the autism spectrum.

Research Leadership - Increasing the number of scholars performing research in the field through training and mentorship.

Long-Term Outcomes Studies - Conducting large-scale studies to determine how life unfolds for people on the autism spectrum and their families.

Covering a Wide Variety of Topics

We focus on the topics that matter to people on the autism spectrum and their families, and are well positioned to provide more insight into the challenges they face.

Our research topics include:

Aimed at Producing Useful Publications and Reports

Autism research is often reported in a highly technical, academic format that is difficult to read. We want to share our findings in ways that people understand.

We cover topics that matter, and present our findings in a variety of formats including fact sheets, white papers, infographics and reports. Our hope is that you’re able to gather the information you need in the format that works best for you.