With roughly 4,200 publications on autism research to choose from, the federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee selected the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute’s National Autism Indicators Report as one of its top 20 influential advances in autism research of 2015.
Released last April, the National Autism Indicators Report is a product of the institute's Life Course Outcomes Research Program headed by Paul Shattuck, PhD. The report focused on the transition of adolescents on the autism spectrum into adulthood, an area of research that is often lacking.
The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee coordinates efforts within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services relating to Autism Spectrum Disorder research. Each year, it picks a new list of the best research.
“Our Life Course Outcomes Research team at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute is thrilled to see national recognition of the issues youth with autism face as they transition into adulthood,” said Anne Roux, the lead author of the report and a research scientist at the institute. “This is such a pivotal point in the life course, as youth with autism and their families are attempting to navigate the world of adult services and connect to adult social roles, such as employment.”
The report noted that one in three young adults with autism were disconnected (never got a job or continued their education after leaving high school) and less than one in five lived independently. Additionally, one in four young adults with autism reported being socially isolated — meaning they hadn’t talked to a friend by phone or been invited out in a full year.
The A.J. Drexel Autism Institute was well-represented on the list, with its director, Craig Newschaffer, PhD, and Diana Robins, PhD, leader of the Early Detection and Intervention Research program, appearing multiple times. Both were co-authors on three different papers covering early autism detection and screening that made the list.
It's likely that the institute's appearance on the list won't be a one-off. Last year’s Autism Indicators Report was the first in a series from the Life Course Outcomes team. The next is scheduled for release in May.
“It will focus on the experiences and outcomes for those with autism relating to vocational rehabilitation services,” Roux explained.
“We anticipate it will also become a landmark study that establishes a baseline for understanding where things stand and informing national policy,” Shattuck said.