A new Viewpoint article in JAMA Pediatrics speaks to the need to redefine the term ‘optimal outcomes’ in autism. The Viewpoint, written by MacART co-Director Dr. Stelios Georgiades and colleague Dr. Connie Kasari of the University of California – Los Angeles, argues for the need to rethink what is meant by “optimal outcomes”, which has tended to be defined as those people with autism who have experienced a decrease in symptoms to the point where they no longer meet diagnostic criteria.
However, rather than focusing on reaching milestones compared to ‘typical’ peers, optimal outcomes should instead be redefined in a more inclusive way, with a focus on progress measured by personal goals. Most importantly, those goals should be defined by individuals with autism and their families.
This is discussed further in a blog post on the Autism Speaks website, urging researchers and clinicians to reconsider the goal of autism services. In autism intervention research, knowing when to change something and to what are key questions that the research community is only starting to address. This makes this Viewpoint incredibly timely and important. It fits within MacART’s framework and goals of advancing autism care through meaningful research; we consider this piece to be a guiding statement in how we can conduct research that is indeed meaningful to the autism community.