Federal funding for autism research yo-yoed in recent years, but ultimately is on the rise, a new government report finds.

Between 2008 and 2012, federal dollars for autism research grew 45 percent, reaching $245 million for the 2012 fiscal year, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The increase was due in part to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a stimulus effort in response to the recession, which boosted autism dollars to over $288 million in 2010 before spending scaled back, GAO found.

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Collectively, 11 federal agencies doled out nearly $1.2 billion in funding for autism research between 2008 and 2012. The vast majority came from the National Institutes of Health.

Though overall dollars increased, spending remained disparate by category, according to GAO. Biological research consistently received the most support followed by efforts to examine treatments and interventions, causes, diagnosis as well as infrastructure and surveillance. Funding for services and lifespan issues remained low through the years assessed.

The GAO report came at the request of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who lead the Senate’s education committee, and nearly a dozen other members of Congress. Findings were sent to the lawmakers in June, but were not released publicly until late last month.

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