What was the National Autism Project?
The National Autism Project (NAP) was a new initiative supported by The Shirley Foundation. Its aim was to provide authoritative recommendations on autism research and practice which have demonstrable effectiveness in benefiting autistic people and their communities. The National Autism Project intended to increase substantially the proportion of national resource devoted to research and intervention in the field of ASD.
How it achieved its goals
The unique aspect of NAP was our effort to analyse the economic benefits, actual and potential, of research and practice across the range from basic biomedical research to social issues like housing and employment, and existential ones around wellbeing. The economic cost-benefit analysis was be based on an evaluation by a team at the London School of Economics. Their work was helped and guided by a large number of experts recruited to the project, including those with autism, whose opinions were crucial in filling gaps in our knowledge and ensuring that our recommendations were as well-informed as possible. We published an expert report in late summer of 2016 which was the basis of a campaign to bring our recommendations to the attention of funders, both government and charities. The remit of the National Autism Project was very broad; it encompassed education, social care, community care, housing, employment, societal perception and understanding, healthcare and biological/medical research.
The results of the project were published in 2016 in a report titled The Autism Dividend.