Read a message from our chairman, James Sack
We’ve been working on this OAR mission for almost 15 years now. In that span, prevalence estimates have changed, changed again, and then changed several more times to arrive at the 1:68 ratio we see today. What hasn’t changed is the thought that the vast majority of children with autism will live a normal lifespan. One would hope we might somehow get “normal” to describe their lives and the opportunities in life. It is this generation living with autism that remains the focus of OAR’s mission.
OAR’s leadership team is built around an incredibly 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 individuals with autism, their families, teachers, caregivers, and service providers need better answers to many and varied, pressing questions.
OAR’s mission then is “to apply research to the challenges of autism.” To me, that implies three fundamental objectives: Raise money. Fund research. Change lives. It’s that simple, and the ultimate goal—making a lasting impact on the lives of children and adults with autism—compels us to raise the bar in fundraising and research funding each year.
As the father of two now adult children with autism, I appreciate the continuing work to identify autism’s cause or causes. Practically speaking, such research offers little for my son and daughter today or in their lifetime. Applied research – scientific studies that test theories, treatments, and assumptions and offer practical answers to the everyday challenges of living with autism – and focused programs like our “Autism in the School House” and Hire Autism initiatives in support of education and employment do.
In terms of research, we fund pilot studies that investigate issues related to diagnosis, early intervention, education, transition to adulthood, housing, employment, and life care. We have now committed almost more than $3.6 million to 204 applied research studies by autism professionals and graduate students pursuing degrees in field related to autism across the U.S., and we will approach $4 million in research funding with the graduate and larger applied research grants we make this year.
We don’t do any of this on our own. From our first days, we have made every effort to engage the autism community in what we do. It paid dividends, and it still does. The input we receive from parents and professionals substantively contributes to the quality and practical focus of all of our resources, whether for self-advocates, parents, siblings, or teachers. And, the financial support OAR receives from the community continues to allow us to give away our guides and other resource materials to parents, teachers, and other front-line service providers who serve our children. Thank you.
Thanks too for visiting this site. I hope you find it useful and welcome your comments and suggestions. Thank you again for your interest and support.
James M. Sack