Autism Science Foundation Funds ‘Next Gen Sibs’ Research Project to Aid and Better Understand the Children of Typically Developing Siblings

Published October 12, 2021

NEW YORK — October 12, 2021 — The Autism Science Foundation (ASF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and funding innovative autism research, today announced the first funding recipients in its ‘Next Gen Sibs’ research project. The goal of this project is to establish a future collaborative network that will help in identification, evaluation and possible diagnosis and intervention for the Next Generation: the children of typically developing siblings of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study will begin at two sites where adult siblings have participated in previous research tracking autism families into adulthood: Emory University (under the direction of Dr. Michael Morrier) and University of California, Los Angeles (under the direction of Dr. Catherine Lord).

This project is based on data from the Baby Siblings Research Consortium (BSRC), which has shown the rate of autism in typically developing non-autistic siblings of those with a diagnosis to be 15x that of those with no family history. Together with the results of a recent ASF-funded study – which showed an increased rate of autism in the children of siblings of autistic individuals – it is clear that future research examining heritability of ASD should expand into the next generation. This next generation needs early recognition, diagnosis and services that can help them live the most fulfilling lives possible, and in order to do that we need a better understanding of their needs. 

“ASF is incredibly proud to be funding this Next Gen Sibs project, which will play an important role in further understanding the genetic role of autism and how we can more quickly diagnose and treat young children who have a history of autism in their families,” said ASF Chief Science Officer Dr. Alycia Halladay. “Siblings who participated in research studies over 20 years ago are now adults and have expressed interest in better understanding why there is a higher rate of diagnoses in their own children, who are the nieces and nephews of autistic adults. The Next Gen Sibs project aims to find the answers these families seek.”

“The Next Gen Sibs project is an example of how ASF strives to address the most urgent questions in the autism community,” said ASF Co-Founder and President Alison Singer. “This new project is a direct result of many conversations we’ve had over the years with autism families and researchers who want to know more about the genetic factors associated with autism, and specifically how they might impact the children of typically developing non-autistic siblings. We are so grateful to our generous donors, who make this important new research project possible.”

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About the Autism Science Foundation

The Autism Science Foundation (ASF) is a 501(c) (3) public charity. Its mission is to support autism research by providing funding to scientists and organizations conducting autism research. ASF also provides information about autism to the general public and serves to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the needs of individuals and families affected by autism. To learn more about the Autism Science Foundation, or to make a donation, visit www.autismsciencefoundation.org.   

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Kathy Ehrich Dowd

Forefront Communications for Autism Science Foundation

617-970-5842

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