AIR-B Updates April 2016

April 20, 2016

The first phase of the new grant awarded for the Autism Research Network for Behavioral Health (AIR-B) at UCLA has begun. Partnerships with community agencies have been established at all four sites of AIR-B, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Rochester and Sacramento. Partners at each site include health and education agencies aimed at serving low income, primarily minority families of children with ASD and other disabilities. For example, in Los Angeles, UCLA researchers have established partnerships with South Central Los Angeles Regional Center (SLARC) and Fiesta Educativa along with a pre-existing partnership with Healthy African American Families (HAAF).

At each site, we have been actively engaged in conducting focus groups with parents of children with autism and the service providers who work with them (approximately 36-40 focus groups across sites). We expect that all focus group data will be collected by the end of April, and we will begin our next phase of intervention development. Pilot studies will be conducted over the summer and fall. The information gained from focus groups and pilot studies will help inform our proposed interventions, Mind the Gap and Building Better Bridges. Mind the Gap will help families in under-resourced communities get access to care sooner than they currently do. Building Better Bridges will address the needs of families and children with autism who are transitioning to new stages of schooling (e.g., preschool to Kindergarten, elementary to middle school and middle school to high school).

AIR-B investigators include UCLA (Connie Kasari, Sheryl Kataoka, Amanda Gulsrud), Philadelphia (Elizabeth McGee-Hassrick at Drexel and David Mandell, Melanie Pellecchia at Penn), Rochester (Tristram Smith, Suzannah Iadarola), Sacramento (Aubyn Stahmer, Peter Mundy) and our community partner, Healthy African American Families (HAAF) (Loretta Jones).