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 self-advocates, parents, autism professionals, and caregivers. The mission of “applying” research to answer questions of daily concern to those living with autism defines our goals and program objectives and shapes our budget.Book resource graphic icon

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 individuals with autism.

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 learners with autism. 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 children and adults with autism and their families face everyday.”

History

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 individuals with autism, their families, teachers, and caregivers.

There are many organizations dedicated to autism. What distinguishes us from other organizations is our singular focus on applied research and the quality and practical value of its resource materials. The studies we fund and the information resources we provide have meaning in the day-to-day lives of persons with autism and their families. Rather than fund research relative to cause and cure, we funds pilot studies on topics of more every day relevance such as education, parent and teacher training, communication, self-care, social skills, employment, behavior and adult and community issues. In pursuing its efforts to change lives, our ultimate focus is quality of life.

Dr. Gerhardt takes the lead of OAR’s new Scientific Council

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The Scientific Council forms with 10 leading autism professionals under the leadership of Dr. Gerhardt.
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OAR launches its first Applied Research Competition

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OAR receives 19 proposals in its first year. After review by the Scientific Council, OAR awards its first research grants to Dr. Richard Kubina Dr. Robert Stromer.
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A Parent’s Guide to Research is released

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Developed and written during 2002, OAR releases Life Journey Through Autism: A Parent's Guide to Research, its first published resource.
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RUN FOR AUTISM is launched

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OAR becomes a charity partner of the Marine Corps Marathon™, and a team of 110 runners helps OAR debut its RUN FOR AUTISM™ program and raises $110,000 in the process.

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OAR hosts first Applied Research and Intervention Conference

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OAR holds the inaugural Applied Autism Research and Intervention Conference organized around the theme “Intervention and education across the lifespan”.
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Combined Federal Campaign

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In February 2004, OAR meets all the qualifying standards and is accepted into the national Combined Federal Campaign (CFC)
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Launch of the Graduate Research Program

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OAR launches its Graduate Research Grants to foster greater interest in applied autism research at the graduate level.
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A Far Reaching Pilot Study

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OAR awards an applied research grant to a study entitled “Early Identification of Autism: Warning Signs from Brain and Behavior”.
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Educating the Educators

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OAR releases its second guidebook dedicated to Educators, An Educator’s Guide to Asperger Syndrome.
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OAR Grantees win grants and awards

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Rachel Loftin, one of the first graduate grantees receives a Student Research award.
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First Adult Employment Study

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2003 grantees Dr. Burke, Dr. Grau and Dr. Hudson from the Kentucky Autism Center report their findings on their autism employment study.
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Chicago Becomes OAR’s Kind of Town!

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RUN FOR AUTISM expands nationally by participating as an associated Charity at the Lasalle Bank Chicago Marathon (now the Bank of America Chicago Marathon).
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OAR Hosts the First Autism Research Convocation

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Envisioned by Dr. Gerhardt, OAR hosts its first Autism Research Convocation in Arlington, VA.
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Transition to Adulthood

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OAR starts its emphasis on adults by publishing A Guide for Transition to Adulthood, the fourth guidebook in the Life Journey Through Autism series.
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Encouraging Meaningful Internships

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OAR launches its internship program.
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Latino Outreach

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OAR begins its Latino Outreach Program by training Promotoras to work with the Latino Community.
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Awarding Students with Autism

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Thanks to a generous donation from the Schwallie Family Foundation, OAR establishes the Schwallie Family Scholarship Program, a scholarship fund destined for individuals on the spectrum intending to pursue their education beyond high school.
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A Handy Self-Disclosure Tool

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OAR releases Understanding Asperger Syndrome: A Professor’s Guide DVD.
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A Parent’s Guide to Assessment

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OAR releases the fifth guidebook in the Life Journey through Autism series, A Parent’s Guide to Assessment.
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Bringing Families and Experts Together

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OAR hosts the second Autism Research Convocation, which focused on Evidence-based interventions in Support of Social Skills and Adaptive Behaviors.
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Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism

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OAR joins 60 other groups and individuals from across the country at the first Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism think tank.
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Sexuality and Autism

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2006 grantee Dr. Nichols reports her finding in one of the earliest studies on sexuality and autism.
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Support for military families

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OAR launches Operation Autism, which remains the first resource dedicated to military families affected by autism.
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OAR Seed Money Pays Off

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2007 grantees Laura Anthony and Lauren Kenworthy are awarded a $775 000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to pursue and expand her pilot studies originally funded by OAR.
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Like a Good Neighbor

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OAR partners with Parents of Autistic Children of Northern Virginia to underwrite the cost of a web-based needs-assessment for families with a child on the autism spectrum living in NoVa.
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Changing faces; new direction

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With Peter Gerhardt departure to return to his passion for clinical work, OAR hires an Assistant Director of Programs and Community Outreach, thus taking a new direction.
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Conference on the Road

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OAR launches its Conference-on-the-Road program at the Milestones Autism/ Asperger’s Conference in Cleveland, OH.
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Chairman’s Dinner Sets New Mark

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The annual chairman’s dinner breaks the $100,000 mark for the first time.
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Fotonovela

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As part of its Latino Outreach program, OAR publishes its first fotonovela, It’s Better to Know/ Es Mejor Saber.
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What’s up with Nick?

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In January 2011, OAR received a letter from Britney, a middle school student with a lot of questions about autism. It inspired OAR to publish What’s up with Nick?
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Guide for Employers

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Partnering with the District of Columbia Public Schools, OAR releases a Guide for Employers, recognizing the need to build autism awareness among employers.
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Navigating the Special Education System

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OAR publishes the seventh guidebook in the Life Journey Through Autism series, Navigating the Special Education system.
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Lisa Hussman Higgins Scholarship

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Thanks to the generosity and leadership of OAR Board Member Lisa Higgins Hussman, OAR establishes a second scholarship fund, geared towards individuals with more severe autism diagnoses.
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OAR Passes $3 Million in Funding Research

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After awarding $237,499 in research grants in 2013, OAR passes the $3 million mark in total funding for autism research.
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OAR Adds Depth to the Kit for Kids

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OAR adds two online only resources to the Kit for Kids.
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Educating the Educators

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OAR continues to launch resources dedicated to educators including Understanding Autism: A Guide for Secondary School Teachers.
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Siblings – what about us?

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Two summer interns help develop material for autism siblings. It will become the Autism Sibling Support initiative.
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A Guide to Safety

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The next guidebook in the Life Journey through Autism series focuses on safety.
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Think Safety

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Expanding upon the original Guide to Safety, OAR launches Think Safety, an online resource.
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Educator Fact Sheet

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Adding to the Curriculum in a box OAR produces an Educator Fact sheet, giving a clear and comprehensive overview of autism.
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Hire Autism: The Sandy Lankler Jobs Portal

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OAR develops and executes the preliminary launch of Hire Autism: The Sandy Lankler Jobs Portal.
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OAR reveals its new website

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In celebration of its 15th birthday, OAR reveals its new, updated and modernized website.
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