As the father of two adults in very different places on the autism spectrum, I have walked the same unpredictable paths and the steep inclines that come with having an autistic child. I know the frustrations and conversely appreciate the simple joys in life even more. Our goal in founding OAR in 2001, was to try to make the paths more navigable and the obstacles and inclines more understandable.
In the more than 20 years since we began, prevalence estimates have changed, changed again, and then changed several more times to arrive at the 1:44 ratio we see today. What hasn’t changed is the reality that the vast majority of children with autism will live a normal lifespan. In the next decade, one would hope we get to a place where “normal” will apply to their lives and opportunities as well. That vision inspires us to take those necessary small steps to learn and do more every day.
OAR’s mission “to apply research to the challenges of autism” implies three fundamental actions: Raise money. Fund research. Change lives. It’s that simple. The ultimate goal—making a lasting impact on the lives of autistic children and adults—drives what we do to fund more research every day.
In terms of research, we fund scientific studies that test theories, treatments, and assumptions, and offer practical answers to the everyday questions related to living with autism. This extends to cradle-to-grave topics: diagnosis, early intervention, education, transition to adulthood, housing, employment, and life care. Since 2002, we have committed more than $4.4 million to more than 300 research studies by autism professionals and graduate students in the U.S. and abroad. Looking forward, we will surpass $5 million in funding within the next two years and be well beyond $8 million in ten years.
OAR’s leadership team is built around a dedicated Board of Directors, a Scientific Council uniquely matched to OAR’s mission, and a staff that delivers results that belie its size. Together, we recognize that autistic individuals, their families, teachers, caregivers, service providers and future employers need better answers to many and varied, pressing questions related to autism. That is what OAR strives to do.
We don’t do any of this on our own. From our earliest days, we have made every effort to engage the autism community in what we do. It paid dividends and still does. The input we receive from self-advocates, parents, and professionals substantively contributes to the quality and practical focus of all of our resources. And, the financial support OAR receives from the community allow us to continue to provide our guides and other resource materials free of charge to parents, teachers, and other front-line service providers who serve and support our autistic loved ones. Thank you.
Thanks too for visiting this site. I hope you find it useful. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Thank you again for your interest and support.
James M. Sack
Chairman, Board of Directors
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