Family Engagement in the Autism Treatment and Learning Health Networks

Pediatrics. 2020 Apr;145(Suppl 1):S30-S34. doi: 10.1542/peds.2019-1895F.


Family involvement in the Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health, the Autism Treatment Network, and the Autism Learning Health Network, jointly the Autism Networks, has evolved and grown into a meaningful and robust collaboration between families, providers, and researchers. Family involvement at the center of the networks includes both local and national network-wide coproduction and contribution. Family involvement includes actively co-authoring research proposals for large grants, equal membership of network committees and workgroups, and formulating quality improvement pathways for local recruitment efforts and other network initiatives. Although families are involved in every aspect of network activity, families have been the driving force of specifically challenging the networks to concentrate research, education, and dissemination efforts around 3 pillar initiatives of addressing comorbidities of anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and irritability in autism during the networks' upcoming funding cycle. The expansion of the networks' Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes program is an exciting network initiative that brings best practices in autism care to community providers. As equal hub members of each Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes team, families ensure that participants are intimately cognizant of family perspectives and goals. Self-advocacy involvement in the networks is emerging, with plans for each site to have self-advocacy representation by the spring of 2020 and ultimately forming their own coproduction committee. The Autism Treatment Network, the Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health, and the Autism Learning Health Network continue to be trailblazing organizations in how families are involved in the growth of their networks, production of meaningful research, and dissemination of information to providers and families regarding emerging work in autism spectrum disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / therapy*
  • Biomedical Research*
  • Child
  • Child Health Services
  • Family*
  • Health Education*
  • Humans