Science and Autism: Government Funded Research

In the past few decades the US government has taken an interest in the autism spectrum in terms of research. The National Institute of Health has funding dedicated to discovering the many causes of Autism and funds many projects associated with Autism that are run mostly run through the CDC. These projects range from looking at how autism affects families and individuals to what the causes are and even an international study with Denmark looking at their extensive catalog of citizens.

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Scientists researching causes of Autism.

The CDC has increased its research into the autism spectrum and has 3 main programs to look at how many people currently have autism in the country, what the risk factors are for autism and a larger research study country-wide.

However, throughout the country the CDC has many smaller programs focused on the number of autistic people in certain areas of the country. This research is funded primarily by the government but is aided by small private organizations interested in the results of the programs.

One of the CDC’s major projects on autism is SEED (Study to Explore Early Development) which is a multi-year project funded by the CDC aimed at identifying risk factors for children to develop ASD which they claim will in turn help to find the causes of ASD. SEED is the largest project of its kind in the US and should provide a clearer understanding of the health risks, causes and physical and behavioral characteristics of people with ASD.

Not affiliated with the CDC but still with the government, the National Institute of Health has some of its own programs associated with ASD. One such program is called ACE (Autism Centers of Excellence) which is the overarching program that controls centers for research throughout the country. The ACE institutions are required to send any data collected back to the National Database for Autism Research where the database compiles all research into articles, websites and reports on findings.

While all this shows good progress on behalf of the government to fund research towards ASD there are still organizations that feel as though they could be doing more to look at it. Autism Speaks is a nationally recognized organization that has donated over $131 million to research ad encourages the government to use more funds to help research.Image result for autism speaks They have called upon the government to put forward more money to observe the growing number of ASD individuals since they can only fundraise so much. Autism Speaks is spearheading the private sector charge on autism research and wants the government to do more with them.

However, government funding has dropped in research on ASD in recent years. From 2012-2013 the spending on research went down from $331.9 to $305.6 million where the government money that went into the budget was only 76%. This drop in funding caused a very small shift (2%) away from federal funding to private funding. Organizations like Autism Speaks and the Simon Foundation are helping to boost the research funds. Hopefully there will be sufficient funds for whatever needs to be done in regard to research on ASD individuals and as a country we can better understand people with ASD.

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