UW LEND Builds Capacity of Primary Care Providers who Manage Children with ASDs

December 15, 2016

The University of Washington LEND plays a critical role in supporting regional primary health providers who care for children with ASDs and their families. On October 10, 2015, the UW LEND collaborated with the Washington Department of Health Title V Medical Home Parent Partnership (MHPP) and the Washington Autism Alliance and Advocacy (WAAA) to offer a CME (7.75 hours) conference for primary care providers titled, "Caring for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in your Practice: Practical Strategies". Achieving geographic reach across the state, 120 participants from all 39 counties filled Seattle Children's Hospital Wright Auditorium for a day of exceptional, evidence-based learning.

Applying results of a needs assessment derived by the inter-professional Washington Autism Advisory Council, the conference incorporated pragmatic tips and advocacy tools to support children with ASD. This included feeding problems, parent support, elopement, venipuncture, complementary and alternative medicines, constipation, insomnia, mental health co-morbidity and more. Paul Carbone MD, University of Utah, launched the day presenting recent research regarding ongoing primary clinical care of children with ASD. Based on his own practice caring for individuals with ASD across the lifespan, he compelled participants to optimize ongoing management both within and beyond their medical homes. To provide additional specific strategies for common medical issues in children with ASD, Patricia Manning-Courtney, MD, University of Cincinnati, offered primary care applications of the Autism Treatment Network's practice guidelines on constipation, sleep and medication management, especially in the setting of seizure disorders. The conference was rich with practical behavioral strategies for common daily dilemmas, strategies for encouraging social engagement, and up-to-date evidenced based interventions. The day culminated with an expert parent/professional panel discussion of best practices for accomplishing a successful medical or dental visit. From "soup to nuts", the panel shared strategies for adapting the office setting and providing the most inclusive family centered, sensory- aware care possible.

Course evaluation revealed participants were extremely satisfied with the topics, presentations, and materials. Participants stated this new knowledge would drive change in their practices to include confidently engaging in shared decision making with parents, taking first steps to solve behavioral issues in children with ASDs, having more understanding of the role of providers with third party payors, and changing clinic work flow to support families experiencing ASD.

Participants were given the opportunity to follow up with UWLEND and MHPP faculty for additional systems integration at their local level. Ten percent of the audience sought additional consultation and technical assistance regarding workflow implementation, diagnostic referral resources, finding non-medical family support resources in their local communities, and additional continuing education on ASD.

The system change impact is already palpable; , one rural community is improving system efficiency in their ASD diagnostic process, another pediatric clinic in a large inner city hospital serving primarily immigrant and refugee patients, has been connected to training and support to implement culturally and linguistically effective developmental screening and improved access to diagnostic assessments, and two rural pediatric practices integrated their new knowledge with existing ‘communities of practice' to build systems change.

All course participants received a copy of the American Academy of Pediatrics "ASD: what every parent needs to know" co-edited by Dr. Carbone. The program syllabus offered all participants, local, state, regional and national ASD resources for providers, including access to culturally and linguistically applicable Developmental Screening and parent navigation. A limited number of ATN Toolkit flash drives were available for participants as well.

Faculty and participants agreed that participation in the conference increased awareness, knowledge, skills, networking and practice change that will last well beyond the single day of training. Click here to view the conference brochure and handouts.