Organization for Autism Research

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Scientific Council Chair's message

 
   

Dear Friends,

As Chair of OAR's Scientific Council, welcome to our Web site and thank you for your interest in effective intervention through the promotion of quality applied research. As you may know, OAR is the only national autism organization whose mission is the promotion of applied research and the subsequent dissemination of evidence-based information. And why is this important?

  • Seeing is not believing. Believing a specific intervention works is simply not enough. The one resource in consistently short supply is that of time. As such, interventions that are ineffective or have limited efficacy waste this precious resource independent of what we may believe, or hope to believe, works. Applied research allows us to make the transition from belief to knowledge and, in so doing, make the best use of our time and our student's time.
  • Correlation does not mean causation. A number of years ago in New York City all the buttons on the stop lights that read "To Cross Street, Push Button, Wait for Green" were disconnected. Yet people keep right on pressing them. Why? Because every so often they push the button and the light changes for no other reason than it was programmed to change at that time. This results in a chance occurrence being interpreted as direct result of one's action (in this case, pushing the button). We may certainly perceive causation here but there is none. Applied research gives us the tools to stop pressing buttons that do not work.
  • We have an ethical obligation. Quite simply, professionals in the field have an ethical obligation to our students, adult clients, families and funding sources to provide treatment and intervention that is most likely to be effective. How do we know what is most likely to be effective? By doing the research, disseminating the outcomes and translating the findings into our professional practice. Individual learners with autism and their families deserve nothing less.

Best
Peter's Signature

Peter F. Gerhardt, Ed.D.
Chair, OAR Scientific Council