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The Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P) Research Agenda

In the United States, autistic individuals experience disproportionate physical and mental health challenges relative to non-autistic individuals, including higher rates of co-occurring and chronic conditions and lower physical, social, and psychological health-related quality of life. The Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P) is an interdisciplinary, multicenter research network for scientific collaboration and infrastructure that aims to increase the life expectancy and quality of life for autistic individuals, with a focus on underserved or vulnerable populations. The current paper describes the development of the AIR-P Research Agenda. Development of the research agenda involved an iterative and collaborative process between the AIR-P Advisory Board, Steering Committee, and Autistic Researcher Review Board. The methodology consisted of 3 phases: (1) ideation and design, (2) literature review and synthesis; and (3) network engagement. Six core research priorities related to the health of autistic individuals were identified: (1) primary care services and quality, (2) community-based lifestyle interventions, (3) health systems and services, (4) gender, sexuality, and reproductive health, (5) neurology, and (6) genetics. Specific topics within each of these priorities were identified. Four cross-cutting research priorities were also identified: (1) neurodiversity-oriented care, (2) facilitating developmental transitions, (3) methodologically rigorous intervention studies, and (4) addressing health disparities. The AIR-P Research Agenda represents an important step forward for enacting large-scale health-promotion efforts for autistic individuals across the lifespan. This agenda will catalyze autism research in historically underrepresented topic areas while adopting a neurodiversity-oriented approach to health-promotion.

Authors: Kuo AA; Croen LA; Kogan MD; et al.

Pediatrics. 2022 Apr 01;149(Suppl 4).

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