The Lancet Commission on the future of care and clinical research in autism
Lord, Catherine; Charman, Tony; Havdahl, Alexandra; Carbone, Paul; Anagnostou, Evdokia; Boyd, Brian; Carr, Themba; De Vries, Petrus J.; Dissanayake, Cheryl; Divan, Gauri; Freitag, Christine M.; Gotelli, Marina M.; Kasari, Connie; Knapp, Martin; Mundy, Peter; Plank, Alex; Scahill, Lawrence; Servili, Chiara; Shattuck, Paul; Simonoff, Emily; Singer, Alison Tepper; Slonims, Vicky; Wang, Paul P.; Ysrraelit, Maria Celica; Jellett, Rachel; Pickles, Andrew; Cusack, James; Howlin, Patricia; Szatmari, Peter; Holbrook, Alison; Toolan, Christina; McCauley, James B.
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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OriginalversjonThe Lancet. 2021, . 10.1016/S0140-6736(21)01541-5
Affecting about 78 million people worldwide, autism is a condition of global importance because of its prevalence and the degree to which it can affect individuals and families. Autism awareness has grown monumentally in the past 20 years, yet most striking is that much more could be done to improve life outcomes for the highly heterogeneous group of people with autism. Such change will depend on investments in science focused on practical clinical issues, and on social and service systems that acknowledge the potential for change and growth as well as the varied, complex needs of the autistic individuals and their families whose lives could be changed with such an effort. The Lancet Commission on the future of care and clinical research in autism aims to answer the question of what can be done in the next 5 years to address the current needs of autistic individuals and families worldwide. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that typically begins to manifest in early childhood and affects social communication and behaviours throughout the life span. Autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders have seen a tremendous influx of interest from the scientific community in the past 60 years. Substantial progress has been made in many areas of basic and applied science, but the limits of the knowledge and understanding of autism are also very clear. For clinical purposes, reviews and guidelines have proliferated, although the data on which many recommendations are based are typically from short-term interventions that address acquisition of specific skills that are hoped—but not yet known with confidence—to contribute to long-term gains across development. However, large gaps around key questions remain, such as what interventions and support strategies are effective for whom and when, and which interventions lead to changes beyond their proximal outcomes. Underlying these outstanding questions is a deep scarcity of information about what are the active elements or mechanisms, behavioural or neurobiological, for change. These issues are particularly important because autism affects from toddlers to elders and is almost always accompanied by other developmental, behavioural, and mental health difficulties or conditions that have major implications for lifelong outcomes.