Increasing Early Identification and Access to Services for Young Children with ASDs and other Developmental Disabilities - A Community Team Approach

April 15, 2014

In November, 2013, the Oregon Center for Children and Youth with Special Health Needs (Title V) was awarded a state implementation grant for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities (DD).  The grant is through the Maternal Child Health Bureau.  The goal of the grant project is to improve the care of children with ASD and other developmental disabilities in rural or semi-rural communities throughout Oregon, including communities with Latino and/or Native American populations.   The project is aimed at implementing the recommendations of the Oregon Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders (OCASD), Screening, Identification and Assessment Committee. 

Components of the project include:  1) Early identification of ASD/DD and entry into services.  The objective is to develop local teams that bring together education and medicine, including mental health, to make an ASD identification jointly and to jointly share results with families.  Parent partners sit on the local teams to support families receiving an ASD/DD identification and to provide resources.   Currently, there are four existing ASD ID teams with plans to expand to eight.  2) Strengthen overall healthcare by working with practices to improve medical home for children with ASD/DD.  Parents of children with ASD sit on practice quality improvement teams addressing medical home strategies.

To increase local capacity for Medical-Education team identification, the following OCASD State Plan recommendations are being addressed:

  • Identification of co-occurring conditions will be improved 
  • Partnerships between local primary care providers and education programs will be strengthened 
  • DSM-5 criteria will be used for all identifications
  • The identification of children with ASD will be made through an interdisciplinary team evaluation
  • The standard evaluation for the identification of ASD will include:

A. Diagnostic interview, including family history, with pertinent people such as child/person, parent/caregiver, and education staff.

B. Standardized observation using research-based, autism-specific instrument(s).

C. Observation of the individual in unstructured activity, to include at least one observation outside of the team evaluation setting

D. A developmental assessment, using the best available standardized tools, appropriate to the age and developmental level of the individual.

E. A formal hearing test for those up to age 5, for the first evaluation, if none has been done in the previous 6-12 months AND one or more of the following is true:

F. Vision screening, if indicated.

G. Once identification has been made, reports will be made available to caregivers in accessible language and format, with specified content areas included regarding the findings.

  • Specialty consultations will be available to health care professionals regarding the care of individuals with ASD

In year three, the project will develop a care coordination curriculum to support practices in improving their medical home activities for children with ASDs and other developmental disabilities.

Project staff will work with community partners and the project advisory committee members to develop a plan for sustaining community infrastructure and identifying financing strategies.