Skip to main content

Who We Are

We are the Organization for Autism Research, better known as OAR.

OAR is an organization founded and led by parents and grandparents of autistic children, who serve as the Board of Directors providing leadership, life experience, and heart.

If our parent leaders are the heart, our Scientific Council, a group of remarkable and equally dedicated autism professionals, are the brain when it comes to our mission and research direction. They are not simply a list of names on letterhead; they are a “roll up your sleeves” team that we call on throughout the year to share their professional expertise and review the merits of all research grant applications.

While the Board and Scientific Council take care of strategy and the big picture, it is OAR’s staff who take OAR’s mission to heart, working hard everyday to make a meaningful impact.

The last and most important piece of the OAR paradigm is the community we serve. It is strong. It is diverse. It is vocal. It is unyielding in its quest for answers. On one hand, the community is our reason for being; on the other, it is the source from which we draw strength, support, inspiration, and the capacity to act and do good.

If you want to understand the spirit in which our leaders, volunteers, and staff operate, read the values that guide us in our mission.

OAR’s mission is to apply research to the challenges of autism.

We strive to use science to address the social, educational, and treatment concerns of autistic people, parents, autism professionals, and caregivers. The mission of “applying” research to answer questions of daily concern to autistic people and those around them defines our goals and program objectives and shapes our budget.

In addition to funding research, our mission includes the requirements to:

  • Disseminate new and useful information to as many members of the autism community as possible, and
  • Direct all research and programs initiatives toward enhancing the quality of life for autistic individuals and the families that give them love and support.

If you are wondering what we mean by applied research, we define it as research that directly impacts the day-to-day quality of life of autistic people. It entails the systematic investigation of variables associated with positive outcomes in such areas as education, communication, self-care, social skills, employment, behavior, and adult and community living. In this context, it extends to issues related to family support, the efficacy of service delivery systems, and demographic analyses of the autism community.

In simplest terms, applied autism research is “practical research that examines issues and challenges that autistic children and adults and their families face every day.”


OAR was founded in December 2001 by seven individuals whose lives and families had been directly impacted by autism. They shared a common vision and set out on a singular mission – to apply science to answer the daily questions and challenges that autism presents to autistic individuals, their families, teachers, and caregivers.

There are many organizations dedicated to autism. What distinguishes OAR is our singular focus on applied research and the quality and practical value of our resource materials. The studies we fund and the information resources we provide have meaning in the day-to-day lives of autistic people and those who support them personally and professionally. Rather than fund research on what causes autism, we fund studies on topics of more everyday relevance such as education, parent and teacher training, communication, self-care, social skills, employment, behavior, and adult and community issues. In all our efforts, our ultimate focus is quality of life.