The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has risen markedly over recent years and is now a preeminent national public health concern. Individuals with ASD exhibit deficits in social interactions, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors or interests that persist over a lifetime. As a result, demands of caregiving for individuals with ASD place heavy burdens on families that must provide long-term care. Because many popular ASD interventions are not evidence based, families need guidance in identifying and accessing evidence-based interventions that are most suitable. This is particularly true for families in poor, rural areas that lack the most up-to-date resources and, thus, are more likely to use potentially harmful non-evidence-based interventions.
Our goal is to build on our solid Tier I foundation and further develop relationships and communication among
- our three Collaboration for Autism Research and Engagement groups comprising parents, clinicians, teachers, and high-functioning adults with ASD who live in rural, underserved areas of northern Florida; and
- University of Florida researchers who will continue to meet monthly with community leaders to examine and further develop comparative effectiveness research (CER) topics that were identified in Tier I.
The final proposed CER will address the research questions formulated during this Tier II project and compare two interventions that are most important to our very engaged stakeholders. The long-term goal is to help individuals with ASD progress from the fringes of intervention to the center by implementing the most current evidence-based treatments.