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New findings of the mechanisms underlying other developmental disorders such as fragile X syndrome and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus led to an intensive lobby by parents of children with autism for similar advances in the study of autism. On April 10 and 11, 1995, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in response to a Congressional request, assembled a working group of distinguished scientists at the NIH to assess the state of the science in autism, identify gaps in knowledge, and make recommendations to the NIH regarding promising areas for future research. Researchers in autism and related areas: representatives of the Autism Society of America; the Autism National Committee; and invited consultants contributed to the discussions reflected in this report.

Follow-up sessions were held at the national conferences of the Autism Society of America and the Autism National Committee. Thoughtful comments on the preliminary draft of this report were received from the April conference participants, at the follow-up parent conferences, and over a four-month period from other professionals, parents, and self-advocates. Scientists listed as authors of the Report chaired one or more of the conference sessions. Major presentations at the conferences are summarized in the individual papers that follow the Report.

The NIH and follow-up conferences were cosponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). In keeping with the Congressional mandate, questions of interest to the NIH formed the basis for the conference and served as the framework for this report. These questions were developed by the NIH Inter-Institute Autism Conference Coordinating Committee: Duane Alexander (NICHD), conference convener; Judith Cooper (NIDCD); Felix de la Cruz (NICHD); Peter Jensen (NIMH); Marie Bristol (NICHD), Chair; Rebecca del Carmen (NIMH); Ralph Nitkin (NICHD); and Giovanna Spinella (NINDS).

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Last Updated Date: 08/15/2006
Last Reviewed Date: 08/15/2006
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