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02 April 2013
A major challenge for researchers working in the field of autism is the capacity to ensure that research knowledge is impacting policy and practitioner communities. While research evidence needs to make more impact on practice and government policy, at the same time, issues central to practitioners and policy makers need to receive more research attention.The Autism-Research-Policy-Practice Hub will draw on knowledge from research, policy and practice communities, relating to a range of issues including identification, diagnosis, intervention, education and employment.
Autism affects as many as 1 in 100 individuals and it is a lifetime condition - children with autism become adults with autism. The lifetime economic cost autism is estimated to be as much as £3-4 million per individual. However, the real cost is borne by the individuals themselves and their families."The goal of the initiative is to facilitate advances in health and wellbeing in young adults and children with autism, by providing insight into public policy and practice agendas, while increasing access to research knowledge on evidence-based diagnosis and intervention" said the Principal Investigator of the project, Professor Sue Leekam of Cardiff University’s School of Psychology. "This initiative will benefit practitioners and policy makers who want to gain access to research. Researchers internationally will also have the opportunities to contribute and highlight their own research findings to non-academics. We envisage that through these activities there will be a direct enhancement of professional expertise and enhancement of skills that will have implications for families affected by autism" she added.The benefits of the knowledge hub will be gained through an increased understanding within each community about the issues guiding each other's priorities and constraints. Improved working relations and decision making will also be gained as a result of these insights. The initial activities of the research-policy-practice hub for autism will include the creation of a network of expertise, an online infrastructure and a set of training and communication packages. As a result of its development, the skills and confidence of clinicians and researchers are set to improve markedly, and lead ultimately to an enhanced quality of services. This will serve to improve the quality and focus of autism research.The Research-Policy-Practice initiative builds on a unique foundation of policy and research partnership made possible by the first government strategy for autism in the world, initiated in Wales. The project demonstrates the unique opportunities of collaboration using the expertise of Autism Cymru’s Chief Executive, Hugh Morgan, and former Shadow Health Minister, Jonathan Morgan, in developing links between academia and policy development.The project is joint-funded by the Economic & Social Research Council and the Welsh Government.
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