THE FORUM (formally NWAF and Autism Forum) was founded in order to help address and mitigate the devastating impact and rising prevalence of special needs children including children with autism.
Today THE FORUM is widely recognized by academic institutions and the government as the largest and most successful Think Tank in the United States focusing on Special Needs Children.
THE FORUM was authorized to operate as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization by the federal government and the state of Oregon in 1999. In the decade since its inception, THE FORUM has provided services that have dramatically improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of children with Special Needs across the country and around the world.
Below is a brief summary of some of the services we have provided that are most relevant to this proposal.
1. Autism Treatment Network (ATN).
In 2002, in cooperation with Massachusetts General Hospital, THE FORUM 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 University of Rochester, among others; these institutions work together to develop cutting edge protocols for ASD treatment. The ATN network has attracted over $100 million in NIH and private grants to build medical protocols for the treatment of Special Needs Children.
2. Scientific Publication in the Journal Pediatrics (85 page paper) on Gastrointestinal Problems with Children with Autism.
THE FORUM has published a number of scientific papers as a result of a novel Think Tank approach that brings the nation’s leading scientists together (20-30 individuals) to engage in a 3-4 year review process specific major issue facing Special Needs Children.
A prime example of this approach is found in “Gastrointestinal Statement and Recommendations”, presented
in the January 2010 85 page supplement to the journal Pediatrics. This article summarizes the consensus statements of ASD experts who attended Autism Forum’s 2008 think tank conference, Gastrointestinal Disorders in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The article highlights the prevalence of GI disorders and their contribution to problem behaviors, and stresses the need for parents and professionals to be aware of how these problems present in children with ASD and the methods for appropriately diagnosing and treating them. A second paper in the supplement – also a result of the 2008 conference – summarizes the consensus recommendations of the participating experts for adapting current standards of care for abdominal pain, chronic constipation and gastroesophageal reflex for individuals with ASD. Ongoing clinical and research evaluations of these guidelines are now contributing to evidence-based best practices for individuals with ASD.
This landmarked paper was awarded the distinction of one of the TOP 10 papers of the past 5 years by the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) a Federal advisory committee that coordinates all efforts within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) concerning autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
3. Scientific Publication in the Journal Pediatrics (85 page paper) on “Identification and Intervention in Autism: Achieving Best Outcomes”
Without question, one of THE FORUM’s finest achievements is recent 2015 publication in the Journal Pediatrics (a 84 page paper) entitled Identification and Intervention in Autism: Achieving Best Outcomes conference.
Our ultimate goal of the paper was to pre-empt the development of autism. This conference and resulting ward winning paper is the first step towards that goal. Our success in achieving this goal will change the lives of infants who would otherwise develop autism and their families, and, more generally, our success will drastically lessen the enormous – and growing – social and economic costs of autism.
To accomplish the goal, the 25 scientists over a five-year period met to determining
(1) Novels ways to identify infants that are at high-risk of developing ASD, and
(2) We can effectively intervene to mitigate, if not altogether avoid, the development of ASD symptoms in infants.
Tools that has not been developed were developed as part of this process, for the clinical screening of infants under 18 months of age in order to catch the subtle markers of ASD as soon as possible. In the United States, the median age of diagnosis of ASD is 4.5 – 5.5 years. We developed standards of practice that lower this number to identify and treat children at an earlier age that reflects sound scientific investigation.
The papers that were published recently won the award of THREE of the Best 20 papers for the year by IACC
4. Preconception to Infancy (P2i)
THE FORUM in 2012 began a very ambition project together to called P2i in order to build a scientific consensus around an evidence based protocol to significant improve safe pregnancies and healthy children. Agilent, working with Purity Laboratories and The Forum, has a significant opportunity to launch a “category killer” Global Health Initiative for pregnancy safety and children’s health. The Technology – Agilent technology – is a critical aspect of reform.
With its global virtual conference environment (see Exhibit B), The FORUM has already created the ideal platform for a Global Health conversation. The virtual conference environment has already the met necessary condition for success in the launch of the Global Health Initiative by earning customer confidence. It will hold 150,000 people a day. Agilent can house a state of the art technology center on the campus.
On September 9th, 2016 The University of Georgia College of Public Health (UGA) will announce a strategic alliance with The Forum Institute to advance a preconception to infancy public health initiative. Dr. José Cordero to work with The Forum Institute to lead the nation’s first preconception to infancy center of excellence in Atlanta.
P2i is a new concept, modeled in large part after a program developed by the CDC, and can bring about the greatest healthcare advancement of this generation. (See Exhibit One for Details)
P2i Measurement Technology
The Measurement Project – Basic Science
The Forum will support through PURITY the continuing development of measurement technology and standards that will either directly support or add new dimensions to the Global P2i Population Intervention Program.
The Measurement Project will:
- Create new, advanced measurement tools and methods, and/or utilize existing accurate methods and tools in a manner which will significantly contribute to existing public knowledge-bases. Such new tools will include biomarker testing assays and other critical biomedical measurement technology to help establish or better define existing clinical parameters that will strengthen the scientific foundation and support the application in the P2i Protocol.
- Ensure both through the science of measurement and through validation in patient groups that such tools and methods can produce medically relevant information on early or chronic childhood disorders, in a way that makes such information easy to include in existing, public knowledge-bases.
- Emphasize both ease of use easily-tolerated procedures. For example, a test that uses a small rather than a large quantity of blood – better yet, a dry blood spot instead of liquid blood – makes the test easier to use and less invasive.