New NIH Grant Will Allow USC-Led Research Team to Expand Autism Speaks’ Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE) Program
$8.4 Million for Research into the Genetic, Physical and Behavioral Profiles of Children with Autism
NEW YORK, NY (October 3, 2007) — Autism Speaks today joined with the University of Southern California in announcing that a multi-institution team led by USC faculty has received a five-year, $8.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for an ambitious effort to survey the genetic, physical and behavioral profiles of children with autism. The grant will vastly increase the scope of the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE), the world’s largest resource for autism research. AGRE was originally developed by Cure Autism Now (CAN), which merged with Autism Speaks in February 2007.
The NIH funding will double the number of families in the AGRE database and expand the data beyond genetic and clinical profiles to include phenomics, the systematic study of the outward physical and behavioral characteristics of autism. Since its founding in 1997, AGRE has grown to include data from more than 1,500 families with multiple children who have autism.
Organized under a new Center for Genomic and Phenomic Studies in Autism at USC, the research will involve scientists at USC, AGRE, the MIND Institute at the University of California at Davis, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
“This grant reaffirms the NIH’s commitment to supporting AGRE as a unique resource, the largest repository of clinical and genetic information for families with multiple children with autism,” said Clara Lajonchere, PhD, Vice President of Clinical Programs for Autism Speaks, who oversees the AGRE program.
“AGRE represents a paradigm shift towards large-scale collaboration and data sharing in the researcher community.”
Lajonchere is research assistant professor at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering with a joint appointment in the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
AGRE’s expansion will focus on recruiting a more ethnically diverse group of families, since minority families are currently underrepresented in the database. “There are few focused genetic studies that directly examine minority populations,” said Lajonchere.
“This center will be a major building block for a state-of-the-art multidisciplinary autism research program we are developing at USC,” said Steven Moldin, executive director of USC’s Washington, D.C. Office of Research Advancement and co-director of the new center.
One goal of the new center, according to NIH Genomics Research Branch Chief Thomas Lehner, is to better distinguish among the many forms of autism, and to explore the differences in their genetic profiles.
“We are trying to establish a correspondence between gene and phenotype, with the phenotype being autism and its many manifestations,” Lehner said. “A unique feature of this grant is the extensiveness of phenotyping. This is one of our largest projects, if not the largest.”
Another unique aspect of the grant is a program of pilot studies to evaluate potential environmental factors in autism, such as air pollution or disease and diet during pregnancy.
“We’re hoping to really fast-track some findings and the understanding of the causes and environmental factors that could possibly be implicated in autism,” Lajonchere said.
Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.
Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid.
ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.
The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t work. In study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work.
What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.
The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth.
The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome.
This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.
Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.
Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.
Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.