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Combating Autism: Grant Programs

State Demonstrations and Policy: Rhode Island Department of Health

Abstract FY 2009

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While national data reveal that the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) continues to increase at a dramatic rate 1 in 10,000 children in 1992 to 1 in 150 in 2007 (source: Autism Speaks ) research shows that early, intensive, sustained and appropriate intervention can result in significant improvements in the quality of life, level of independent functioning and reduction of public costs associated with autism.  In response to this dilemma, RI passed legislation, the RI Autism Spectrum Disorder Evaluation and Treatment Act (2005), which tasked the RI Department of Health (HEALTH) to focus on statewide response in the screening, tracking, diagnosis and treatment of ASD.  Through collaboration among interagency and family experts at the local and national levels, HEALTH continues to be a statewide leader in proactively supporting families and children and youth with ASD as well as their providers – development of the RI Resource Guide for Families of Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in English and Spanish, maintaining an ASD Advisory Board, disseminating best practice ASD screening guidelines, determined diagnostic standards, and participated on statewide educational reform efforts to meet the needs of students with an ASD.

HEALTH proposes to enhance the structure and capacities of the state CYSHCN program through the Office of Special Healthcare Needs to assure integrated, family-centered, community-based, coordinated systems of care for children and youth with an autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities.   HEALTH proposes to implement a statewide screening and tracking system, conduct a comprehensive needs assessment, develop and disseminate best practice guidelines in the diagnosis, treatment planning and intervention through equipping children, youth, families, physicians and providers with national and local resources in the screening, diagnosis and treatment of an ASD and other developmental disability.  The proposed project will strengthen RI’s process of continuous quality improvement in the special needs service delivery system, including early and continuous screening, including parents and youth as decision makers, enhancing medical homes, and supporting youth through transition.

The proposed project will reduce the proportion of children and youth with an ASD or other developmental delay reporting environmental barriers to participation in home, school, work, or community activities (Healthy People 2010 Objective 6-12) through the provision of family-centered, community-based, coordinated systems of care for CYSHCN and their families (MCHB and the President’s New Freedom Initiative) by the end of the proposed 3-year project period (August 31, 2011).