Relatively little has been written about autism in developing countries when compared to what has been published on the condition in North America and Europe. Of all the developing countries however, India has the greatest wealth of research articles by far with over 160 articles, chapters and books that relate to the topic. (See this presentationfor more detail). In addition to published articles, there are also many unpublished research studies. Know more about research on autism in India.
AFA has a longstanding commitment to autism research. We believe that research is the key that will help us better understand both the phenomenology and treatment of people with autism, and build upon the existing services.
We have carried out multiple research projects over the past two decades, both independently, and in collaboration with individuals and organizations within India and abroad. Our vast network of families throughout South Asia and connections to families across the world especially allows for this. AFA has also provided support to visiting scholars from abroad, and is training ground for budding professionals. Various students of psychology, social work and special education from leading universities in India and other parts of the world have interned at AFA. We learn greatly from these research collaborations and look forward to future opportunities.
In a unique partnership with University of California, Los Angles (UCLA), AFA started the 'Research on Autism and Families in India (RAFIN)' project in 2010. We aim to establish a research site in India that will encourage sustained research on autism that is truly interdisciplinary and ecologically valid. This site will develop over time as students and faculty become attached to it. It will encourage long-term research partnerships among neuroscientists, brain imagers, developmental psychologists, family and clinical researchers, and ethnographers knowledgeable in the cultures, social relations, and psychiatric disorders of the target populations and setting.
The project is being funded by the Foundation for Psychocultural Research-UCLA Culture, Brain, Development, and Mental Health Programme, with in-kind and related institutional support from AFA. Two unique projects currently underway include: a) an evaluation of a group-based parent training model for young children with ASD in a low-resource setting. This aims to finally produce a complete implementation manual to enable further expansion of parent training within India, as well as its adaptation for other low-resource settings; b) the first study on adults with autism in India to understand their journey till date, current lives, and to advocate for more opportunities and services for them.
From 1998 to 2001 AFA received a grant from the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation to conductan awareness project among paediatricians across the country. The objectives of the project were to *raise the awareness and basic understanding of autism among paediatricians, *increase the number of early and accurate diagnoses of the condition autism, *reach parents in all localities of India who have children newly diagnosed as autistic, *provide relevant information about the condition, *provide information on how to receive further assistance and *to gauge the extent of the condition in India by estimating newly diagnosed children in India during the year.
AFA also partners with the University of Cambridge and MIT Laboratory for Vision Research to conduct studies on autism. One of the first studies with MIT laboratory was to characterise the top-down processing in individuals with autism relative to controls, and to develop therapeutic interventions for improving any deficits found.