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National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 14, 2003


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Constance Burr
NIMH Press Office
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Autism Summit Conference

A national conference focusing on the Federal government's role in biomedical autism research, early screening and diagnosis, and improving access to autism services will be held November 19-20, 2003, at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. The summit will provide a public forum to disseminate, evaluate, and integrate the latest science-based autism information among Federal, academic, and community participants.

A major goal of the summit is to develop an information exchange among the autism community, experts in specific areas, and Federal agencies that advance autism research and services. Another goal is to foster partnerships among these groups.

The event, " The Autism Summit Conference: Developing a National Agenda," will expand the work of the Federal Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), formed in response to the Children's Health Act of 2000. The IACC serves to enhance coordination and effectiveness of autism research and service activities across the Federal government and with public stakeholders.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education are conference cosponsors. Interagency sponsors from the National Institutes of Health include: The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The summit's biomedical component will address autism research on diagnosis, causes, neuroscience, and treatment. Programs will build on the work of an expert panel of scientists that responded to a congressional request for a "roadmap" to identify and advance high-priority research goals. Federal officials, researchers, and community members will discuss such topics as genetics, epidemiology, and early intervention.

The second major theme, implementing autism screening and diagnosis, will review existing screening instruments and implementing practices in the community. Relevant research and current clinical practices will be discussed.

The third theme is integrating autism services throughout the lifespan. Topics will deal with issues for those living with autism, including fragmented services provided by educational and other systems. These subjects are similar to those raised by the President's New Freedom Commission for Mental Health.

The summit will provide an opportunity to highlight the Federal government's interest in autism and mobilize resources to confront this recognized public health problem. It will begin to establish a national agenda of research and service goals to be achieved through advances by federal, academic, voluntary, and other public organizations.

The conference was planned collaboratively to represent diverse interests and perspectives. Public officials, as well as major researchers and practitioners in the autism field, will be involved in all aspects of the summit.

For more information on the summit conference, access the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee Website at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/autismiacc/index.cfm.

NIMH is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Federal Government's primary agency for biomedical research. NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


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