To the generous families who have volunteered for the APP study:
I want to welcome you to the APP study and thank you for being so generous with your time as we work to better understand and treat autism spectrum disorders. We believe that this project is the largest biomedical study of autism undertaken thus far. Your willingness to participate in this study over time gives us a special opportunity to understand autism and the changing symptoms over time.
We now believe that autism may not have one single biological cause, but rather several different biological causes. You know, better than we, how different one child with autism is from others, and we suspect that within autism there are subgroups with different biologics underlying their autism. We believe that identifying these different subgroups will help us sort out the causations of autism, and that is what this project is all about. With your help, we hope to identify multiple patterns, or phenotypes (specific symptoms and characteristics that group together) for different subgroups and look for underlying biological differences. Understanding the biology of autism should help us identify additional methods to treat autism. Itís such a puzzle that, even though we know autism is a biological disorder, right now our only treatments are behavioral or educational.
There are so many layers to autism: behavior, learning rates, brain activity patterns, and genetic contributions. Until recently, most research projects focused on just one layer of autism, and so couldnít examine the totality of this complex condition. The M.I.N.D. Institute was created to bring scientists together who had expertise among them in all the layers, so we could look at the whole of autism in a single study, rather than just one part at a time. That is what the APP study is all about, about parents, children and researchers forming a team to tackle all of autism, at once. This is a rare opportunity Ė and itís what has brought us all together at the M.I.N.D. Institute. We will learn about autism together in a way that could not have been done before. Thank you for giving all you give. I look forward to meeting you and your children and sharing the results of the project with you as they start to become available.
With gratitude and many thanks,
Sally J. Rogers, Ph.D.
Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine
Co-Principal Investigator, APP