Federal officials are looking for feedback from the public as a key panel works to update the government’s autism agenda for the first time in years.

The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, a group of government officials and members of the autism community that’s charged with advising the secretary of health and human services and coordinating federal autism activities, is working to update its Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder. The plan guides priorities for autism research, services and supports and is relied on by both federal agencies and private organizations.

As part of the process, the committee is seeking input from stakeholders.

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“The IACC is requesting comment on what you consider to be the most important issues, needs and gaps in these seven topical areas that could be addressed by federal programs and activities, and/or in partnership with community organizations,” reads the committee’s announcement.

The strategic plan has been organized around several topics — screening and diagnosis, biology, risk factors, treatments and interventions, services, lifespan issues and infrastructure and surveillance. In addition, the IACC is seeking input on two new topics, one related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the autism community and the other about considerations for underserved populations like racial and ethnic minorities, economically disadvantaged communities and rural populations.

Under the Autism CARES Act, the strategic plan is supposed to be updated annually, but the last update occurred in 2019. Since then, the IACC took a two-year hiatus after all of the members’ terms expired and there was a delay in appointing a new committee.

The federal autism panel reconvened again for the first time this summer and is now moving forward with an update to the plan.

Public comments are being collected through Nov. 30.

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