Indiana LEND Supports Statewide Autism Effort

December 10, 2013

The Riley Child Development Center (RCDC), Indiana's LEND Program is taking part in an innovative system development model being spear-headed by faculty in the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and Children's Health Services Research. Department of Pediatrics Chair Wade Clapp, MD and Nancy Swigonski, MD, MPH are leading the development of a Neurodevelopmental Behavioral Center (NDBC), which will integrate and coordinate services for children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders by creating tiered system of clinics across the state. IUSOM Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Genetics are also contributing staff time and expertise to build the program, which is supported with funds from the Riley Children's Foundation and the Indiana State Department of Health.

The objective of the NDBC is that providers will work at the top of their licenses, resulting in reduced backlogs at the tertiary care centers and increased local capacity to serve families. The goal is for Indiana children to receive autism and developmental screening by 2 years, and for those identified to receive a diagnosis by 3 years, and appropriate services by 4 years. The model provides training to physicians and other professionals and increases coordination of resources in local communities. Indiana LEND faculty, staff, and trainees, including Director Angela Tomlin, PhD, Training Director Rylin Rodgers, and post-doctoral fellows Elesia Hines, PsyD and Lani Jones, PsyD have been involved in the overall planning and will take part in ongoing training efforts.

A year-long pilot program at Southern Indiana Pediatrics in Bloomington Indiana evaluated children between 18 and 42 months who failed the MCHAT. With support from a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, a specially trained general pediatrician performed the ASQ-2, STAT and a diagnostic interview, resulting in identification of autism or another developmental disorder in over 90% of the referred children.

The pilot project has reduced the wait for an evaluation and resulted in an increase in the number of children entering preschool special services with autism diagnoses in the area. Plans for rolling out the program continue in 2014 with training scheduled in Lafayette and planning in progress for Evansville and Ft. Wayne.