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The Northwest Autism Foundation was founded in 1997 in order to help address and mitigate the devastating impact and rising prevalence of ASD. The original mission of NWAF was to “provide education, resources and information to parents, family, friends, caregivers and professionals treating children on the autism spectrum on a donation only basis.” Shortly after its inception, NWAF expanded its mission to include facilitating early diagnosis and effective treatment for individuals with ASD. Below is a selected history of some of the most important events and projects coordinated and sponsored by NWAF:
In 2000, NWAF hosted the first of many Autism OASIS conferences; the mission of these conferences is to enlist he best scientists and doctors to provide information about the most effective current treatment options for children with ASD to the parents and caregivers of children with ASD. Speakers at Autism OASIS conference have included Dr. Tim Buie, M.D (Instructor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; Assistant Clinical Professor in Pediatrics, Tufts University; Associate Professor in Pediatrics, Massachusetts General Hospital; Attending Gastroenterologist, Lurie Center LADDERS) and Dr. Bernard Rimland, Ph.D. (founder of Autism Research Institute and Autism Society of America), among others.
In 2001, NWAF published the first Autism Resource Directory, an extensive annotated listing of local and national resources for ASD information and services.
In 2002, in cooperation with Massachusetts General Hospital, NWAF raised several million dollars to begin the Autism Treatment Network (ATN). Initially involving experts in various medical disciplines at six treating hospitals, ATN was the first network of its kind to bring together physicians in order to bridge gaps in knowledge and improve treatment for individuals with ASD. Today, ATN is the premier university research program for medical issues for people with ASD, and its member institutions include Massachusetts General Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center, Kennedy Krieger Institute, and the University of Rochester, among others; these institutions work together to develop cutting-edge protocols for ASD treatment.
In 2005, NWAF established a Medical Advisory Committee.
In 2009, NWAF created the Autism Forum the Autism Forum as a think tank to support high-quality, independent research designed to identify and improve efficacious biomedical and behavioral treatments for individuals with ASD.