PI Tinca Polderman receives large grant from NWO

12 November 2019

Netherlands Autism Register (NAR) of the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam obtains grant of 1,5 million euro to extend and enrich the NAR with genetic data, online neuropsychological tests, and online interventions

The grant was awarded by ZonMw-NWO, based on a collaborative initiative of main applicant/project leader dr. Sander Begeer (VU), project leader, *dr. Tinca Polderman* (VU), and co-applicants dr. Erik van der Burg (VU), Prof. dr. Annemieke van Straten (VU), Prof. dr. Heleen Riper (VU), Prof. dr. Bhisma Chakrabarti (University of Reading), Prof. dr. Hilde Geurts (University of Amsterdam), and MSc. Maria Hibma (Netherlands Autism Association).

Netherlands Autism Register (NAR)

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are characterized by impaired social skills, inflexibility and high rates of co-occurring disorders. The NAR is a unique database, founded in 2013 by the Netherlands Autism Association and the VU. Goal of the NAR is to follow individuals with ASD over time, to investigate how adequate care can improve their functioning, enhance their quality of life, and reduce societal costs.

Optimize support

The ZonMw grant allows to extend and enrich the NAR in the coming 8 years with genetic data, online neuropsychological tests, and online interventions. Main applicant Sander Begeer: “Currently, we lack knowledge on how to support people with ASD, in particular adults, in a personalized way. Following NAR participants over time, combined with information on genetic risk, neuropsychological functioning, and intervention effects, will provide crucial insights regarding the needs of people with ASD during the life span.”

Comorbid problems

ASD often coincides with other problems, like sleep problems or depression. For affected individuals, online treatments in particular might be beneficial. “Given their affinity with online communication this might be an optimal approach for interventions”, argues Begeer. “We will investigate whether online interventions are effective for sleep, depression, and social problems, and which individuals benefit most. Our findings will be easily accessible, see www.nederlandsautismeregister.nl, and if successful, online interventions will be implemented in clinical care”.