Preface: The 2010 Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder Research - January 19, 2010  
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The 2010 Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder Research - January 19, 2010

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With recent reports that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is becoming increasingly prevalent – now estimated to affect about 1 percent of children in the United States – efforts to accelerate the research field take on even greater urgency and importance.

In developing the 2010 Strategic Plan for ASD Research, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) updated the previous Plan to highlight the most pressing research needs and opportunities for the field today. The Plan, which must be annually updated in accordance with the Combating Autism Act (CAA) of 2006, provides a blueprint for autism research that is advisory to the Department of Health and Human Services and serves as a basis for partnerships with other agencies and private organizations involved in autism research and services. In the process of developing the 2010 update of the Plan, the committee collected feedback from scientists, advocacy groups, research funding organizations, and members of the public to guide their efforts to refine the first version released in 2009.

"On this first update of the Plan, the IACC really put its shoulder to the wheel, adding not only new objectives but a new chapter, as well," said Dr. Thomas Insel, M.D., IACC Chair and Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

These substantial revisions, which include the addition of a new chapter on infrastructure, came after a year-long process in which the IACC conducted a comprehensive analysis of current ASD research funding and summarized major research advances in the previous year. The IACC also revised the 2009 Plan based on public input through a formal Request for Information, a Town Hall meeting, and other public comments. During a two-day workshop, invited panelists considered all of this information as they made recommendations for the update.

During the updating process, the IACC heard the need for more research on adults, more focus on non-verbal people with ASD, and the need for better infrastructure for research – from biological specimen repositories to better surveillance. The 2010 Strategic Plan addresses these needs and has developed additional objectives with recommended budgets for the research.

ASD research has become a national priority, receiving a massive surge in funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. With greater financial resources and the 2010 Strategic Plan to direct future work, researchers have been given the tools to make great strides in understanding ASD, developing potential interventions, and improving quality of life for people with ASD and their families.

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