Autism Speaks Top 10 Autism Research Achievements of 2011

December 22, 2011

NEW YORK, N.Y. (December 20, 2011­) – Autism Speaks, the world's largest autism science and advocacy organization, has released its annual list of the 10 most significant science achievements to have impacted autism during the previous year. Every year, Autism Speaks documents the progress made toward its mission to discover the causes and treatment for autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and identifies the Top 10 Autism Research Achievements of the year. Autism Speaks’ Top Ten list includes discoveries on how frequently autism recurs in families and the extent to which “environmental,” or non-genetic, influences, increase the risk of autism in those who are genetically predisposed to this developmental disorder. These important results  continue to shape the future of autism research for 2012 and beyond.

“Not only has the research community continued to make significant progress towards effective treatments, 2011 offered some game-changing discoveries which help us understand underlying causes of ASD,” explained Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D. “Some of these discoveries will have direct and immediate impact on quality of life of people with autism.”

The 2011 list reflects the exponential rate of discovery in autism research, supported by the joint commitment of government health agencies and private organizations such as Autism Speaks in supporting this vital work.

“The recent reauthorization of the Combating Autism Act was critical to ensuring a continued federal commitment to supporting autism research and services that will improve our understanding of autism and help people with autism lead productive and fulfilling lives,” stated Autism Speaks President Mark Roithmayr. “I applaud the thousands of families nationwide who joined Autism Speaks Walks as well as our many corporate sponsors whose support and funding are enabling us to move forward,” Roithmayr added. “Working together – families, scientists, professionals, government officials – we are making progress through science and advocacy.”

With input from Autism Speaks' Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), Autism Speaks science staff culled through thousands of publications to arrive at these choices. “These outstanding scientific advances are changing the way we think about autism and its causes,” said SAC member Gary Goldstein, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the Kennedy Krieger Institute.  “From the game-changing twin study to the emerging clues on environmental risk factors, these studies highlight the important role of gene-environmental interactions in autism.” 

This year’s highlights also reflect discoveries which advance translational research – the science of designing drugs to address core symptoms of autism. Research in 2011 also delivered evidence that may yield immediate benefits, that adequate folic acid around the time of conception may lower autism risk, and the validation of a method for screening at one year that may enable earlier intervention to improve children’s outcomes. An international study from South Korea not only found a much higher prevalence of ASD in schoolchildren by using a community screening method – 1 in 38 –  – but provides evidence that community screening elsewhere may yield much higher prevalence rates than would be found in standard surveys of medical records.

Click below to read more about the Top 10 Autism Research Achievements.


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Wow I am so delighted that you have made a DVD and look so foarrwd to watching it.When I read your book the first time I thought oh my god it&;s all about my daughter Hannah. We share this book with all our volunteers and treasure it so much. Other parents that have read it say exactly the same thing and I think all parents should read it even if their kids don&;t have Autism just so they have an insight into the Autistic world. We have attended start up and max impact and due to attend new frontiers in November and so so busy fundraising to get Hannah our nearly 7 year old to an intensive hopefully next year. We have 6 children 4 typically developing and 2 with Autism. Our other daughter Xarie who is 5 is progressing with just a sprinkle of Son-rise dust where as Hannah needs alot more. We run our program 6 days per week and she attends special school just one day each week (more to satisfy the education department than anything else). I so look foarrwd to receiving this DVD and the phone call and thankyou so much for offering a discount through facebook, as we need all the assistance we can get.Thanks again ..Keep up the good work Love Lyndall & family xxx