GRAND is part of The Global Health Network (TGHN) which is a hub joining together a collection of websites to support research by sharing knowledge and methods. Each has been established to create a subject specific online community of researchers who can build collaborations, develop documents, share resources and exchange information.
The GRAND site has been created to bring together researchers, public health individuals, therapists and families who have an interest in autism and neurodevelopmental disorders across the globe. Anyone can join the community free of charge and have access to all of the content. The ability to conduct research can be limited by the availability of materials and methods especially in low and middle income settings. Thus our aim is to empower people to conduct their own research by providing access to culturally relevant tools, information and guidance in order to produce robust and meaningful results. We welcome and encourage feedback and suggestions so the growth of the site is a dynamic process where it adapts to the needs of the members of the community.
Neurodevelopmental and autism spectrum disorders affect children worldwide, but the majority of research and development of services to date has been focused in high income countries (HICs)1. However evidence is emerging that these disorders are more common in low and middle income countries (LMICs) and are considered as one of the leading mental health related causes of the global burden of disease2. The WHO survey consortium found that up to 85% of individuals with mental disorders in some LMICs do not receive any form of treatment3. This finding highlights the huge resource and evidence gaps that exist for neurodevelopmental and autism spectrum disorders. More specifically we are aware that there is a lack of:
- Accurate prevalence rates
- Appropriate screening and diagnostic procedures
- Recognizing phenotypes, symptoms and characteristic behaviors
- Awareness and public engagement
- Specialized resources
- Relevant training frameworks
- Intervention programmes
- Healthcare facilities and centers
- Trained specialists such as psychiatrists and psychologists
- Evidence of effective treatments
Improving any number of these would allow children suffering from these disorders to reach their full potential. By the sharing of results, successes and failures on this site we could tackle the problems faced by researchers and increase productivity and research. Ultimately this could lead to effective treatment packages and strategies to support families and the wider community, improved child outcomes, and changes to national guidelines.
1. Reichow B et al, (2013) Non-specialist psychosocial interventions for children and adolescents with intellectual disability or lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders: a systematic review. PLoS Med, 10(12): p. e1001572; discussion e1001572.
2. Murray CJ et al. (2012) Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) for 291 diseases and injuries in 21 regions, 1990-2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet, 380(9859): 2197 - 223.
3. Demyttenaere K et al. (2004) Prevalence, severity, and unmet need for treatment of mental disorders in the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys. JAMA, 291(21): 2581 - 90.
GRAND has very generously been funded by The Shirley Foundation whose mission is to “Facilitate and support pioneering projects with strategic impact in the field of autism spectrum disorders with particular emphasis on medical research”.