Autism in this country is increasingly common, with one of every 59 kids begin diagnosed, and that’s created a need for services and support. The University of Virginia has responded with a new program for families and educators.
With a $6.2 million grant from the university, UVA’s school of education has created a program and an online platform called STAR – short for Supporting Transformative Autism Research.
“Individuals with autism and their families can come onto the site, create an account, register – which takes about ten minutes,” says Rose Nevill, director of STAR’s autism research core.
“Our goal is to use that information to link them with relevant research opportunities at UVA focused on autism.”
Already, she says, 150 people have signed up, and there are about a dozen studies going on at the Curry School of Education. Nevell adds that other research is underway elsewhere on campus.
“Within the Brain Institute, the Data Science Institute, Medicine, Psychology – so there’s quite a lot of interest.”
Researchers hope to answer some big questions: What causes autism? Can we come up with better ways to diagnose it? What’s the best way to educate kids who have it, and how can we help adults with autism find jobs? The program also employs navigators – people who can offer guidance and support to families and individuals.