Autism Speaks has announced grants totaling more than $1.6 million in support of three promising research projects.
The first study will examine a personalized intervention program for curbing the dangerous autism-related behavior of wandering, or bolting, from safe and supervised places. To be led by psychologist Mindy Scheithauer of Emory University's Marcus Autism Center, the study will enroll seventy-six children. The second grant will support a clinical trial of leucovorin (a form of folate, or vitamin B9) that has shown early promise in improving verbal communication and sociability in a subgroup of children with autism. Led by pediatric neurologist Richard Frye of the Phoenix Children's Hospital, the study will enroll eighty children. And the third study, which is international in scope, will develop and test a set of autism screening and diagnosis methods for their effectiveness and practicality in low- and moderate-income countries. Led by Amina Abubakar of the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, the study will be launched in Kenya, South Africa, and Malawi.
"In supporting the development of practical and affordable screening and diagnostic methods, we can improve the lives of millions in parts of the world where autism still goes largely unrecognized and untreated," said Andy Shih, Autism Speaks senior vice president for public health and inclusion. "At the same time, we'll be learning important lessons for increasing our support in underserved communities here at home."