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Summary and Highlights: Report to Congress on Activities Related to Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Developmental Disabilities Under the Combating Autism Act of 2006 (FY 2006-FY 2009)

Introduction

This document contains a summary and highlights from the Report to Congress on Activities Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Developmental Disabilities Under the Combating Autism Act of 2006 (FY 2006-FY 2009), which was prepared to meet the requirements of Public Law 109-416, (PDF – 49 KB), the Combating Autism Act of 2006 (CAA):

"Not later than 4 years after the date of enactment of the Combating Autism Act of 2006, the Secretary [of Health and Human Services], in coordination with the Secretary of Education, shall prepare and submit to the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee of the Senate and the Energy and Commerce Committee of the House of Representatives a progress report on activities related to autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities."

The Report to Congress describes progress and expenditures made in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research and services activities since the enactment of the CAA and addresses the following categories specified in the CAA: prevalence; average age at diagnosis; average age for intervention; average time between screening, diagnosis and prevention; effectiveness and outcomes of intervention; innovative intervention strategies; and adult services and supports.  Information from the following Federal departments, agencies, and offices that address ASD research or services is included:

In support of a coordinated Federal strategy for ASD research and services, the Combating Autism Act of 2006 reconstituted the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC).  The IACC membership includes the above-listed HHS agencies (with the exception of AHRQ), the Department of Education and public members, including people with autism, parents of people with autism, leaders of national autism advocacy and research organizations, a researcher, and a physician.  The Report to Congress provides a summary of the IACC's efforts, including detailed descriptions of the activities of the committee that have fulfilled the committee's Congressionally-mandated responsibilities, such as the development of the IACC Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder Research. The coordinated efforts of agencies serving on the IACC, in collaboration with public member partners, have served well in identifying promising ASD research areas as well as pinpointing both best-practices and gaps in ASD biomedical and services research, many of which are described in the Strategic Plan. Having the Strategic Plan in place in early 2009 allowed Federal agencies to jumpstart implementation of research priorities described in the Strategic Plan using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The Recovery Act supported $122 million in new autism research projects from 2009-2010.  Recent highlights  from Federal agency efforts in ASD research described in the Report to Congress include projects to monitor and track trends in ASD prevalence, develop new diagnostic tools, identify novel genetic and environmental risk factors, conduct trials of innovative medical, behavioral and educational treatments and interventions, and measure the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of evidence-based services for people with ASD. 

In addition, the report describes a wide array of autism services and supports provided by Federal agencies, including early screening, diagnosis and intervention services, provider training, healthcare delivery, social support and vocational training, while also highlighting Federal efforts to test and implement family-driven, person-centered and home and community-based service provision models.  Following the overview of ASD research and services-related efforts at each lead agency and related ASD budget figures, the report provides current ASD prevalence estimates, updates on the present diagnostic and intervention landscape, and ongoing efforts to develop effective new ASD supports and services programs and identify gaps in existing programs. This is followed by information on forward-looking strategies to address the continuing needs of diverse ASD communities.

The following is a list of programmatic highlights from the report, taken from all the contributing HHS agencies and offices and the Department of Education.  For more detailed information on these activities, as well as budget expenditures, please see the full-length report.

Agency Highlights from the Report

Cross-Agency Coordination

Expansion of ASD Research

ASD Surveillance, Awareness, and Outreach

Investigating the Causes of Autism

Development of Evidence-Based Autism Treatments

Innovative Intervention Investments

High-Quality Training of ASD Practitioners and Service Providers

Best Practices in Service Provision

ASD Services and Supports Across the Lifespan