Organization for Autism Research: Grants for Brain Research and Treatment

OVERVIEW: OAR funds research pilot studies that investigate issues that affect autistic individuals and those that care for them. Grants are awarded up to $30,000 for professional researchers, $2,000 for doctoral students, and $1,000 for master’s students.

IP TAKE: Unlike some autism funders, this one doesn’t exclusively focus on children. Approach OAR with your adult-focused research proposals related to adult education, employment, residential supports or sexuality instruction.

PROFILE: The Organization for Autism Research (OAR) holds open grant competitions for pilot study for funding in autism research each year. This organization was established in December 2001 by seven founders who are parents and grandparents of children and adults on the autism spectrum. OAR’s single focus is to use applied science to answer the types of questions that people with autism, families, teachers, and caregivers have on a regular basis.

OAR looks to fund evidence-based research and sticks to promising pilot studies. One of OAR’s grant competitions is for researchers and the other one is for graduate students. Both competitions promote research in the analysis, evaluation, or comparison of assessment or treatment models with the following focuses:

  • Early education
  • Behavioral and communication intervention
  • Adult continuing education
  • Employment
  • Housing models
  • Intervention later in life

Applied Research Competition

This is the grant opportunity for professional researchers, and it is conducted annually through an RFP process. You can apply for a one- or two-year grant of up to $30,000. Download the funding guidelines PDF for details on covering administrative costs, exclusions, and acceptable uses of funds.

In a recent year, these were the types of research proposals that OAR was looking for:

  • The analysis, evaluation, or comparison of current models of assessment, intervention, or systems of service delivery including policy analysis,
  • Applied aspects of educational, behavioral, or social/communicative intervention across the lifespan,
  • Adult issues such as continuing education, employment, residential supports, sexuality instruction, quality-of-life determinants, and “later intervention,” and
  • Issues related to family support, social and community integration, assessment and intervention with challenging behavior, and the use of technology in support of learners with ASD.

After a three-phase application process, final reviews are conducted during an annual meeting in November. You can find a list of professional studies funded dating back to 2002 on the foundation website. Your best point of contact for questions about this program is Kimberly Ha at 703-243-9762 or via email at

Graduate Research Program Grants

This is the graduate student-level funding program that offers awards up to $1,000 to students conducting autism research as part of their master’s degree requirements. These awards grant up to $2,000 to students who are pursuing a doctoral degree in the field. This funding program was established in 2004 and awarded at least 105 grants totaling over $189,000 to graduate students in its first 11 years.

You can learn more about previous research grant recipients on the Graduate Grants page. Contact OAR’s other program and outreach associate, Wendy McKinnon, at 703-243-3466 or at with questions about this program.

Professionals looking for research grants can download the current RFP in PDF form on the Grant Application page.


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