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Overview

Children and youth on the autism spectrum are less likely to have a medical home (23.9%) compared to other children with special health care needs (43%) or all children (57.5%). They have greater health care utilization than other children and are more likely to have unmet needs (63%). (source: NS-CSHCN 2009-10, Lin, Rev J Autism Disord 2014)

Many partners in Washington State are working together to:

  • change policy regarding supports and services
  • increase access to care
  • better understand the causes and treatment for children and youth diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

News

SMART Teams expanding! 

The School Medical Autism Review Team (SMART) engages school and medical professionals in a team setting to review a child’s needs and to ensure appropriate services that can support their success in school and life. These tools were developed and piloted by members of the Lewis County Autism Coalition (Read more).

Washington State Autism Advisory Council (WAAC)

The Washington Autism Advisory Council (WAAC) is a statewide partnership of autism organizations, family members, medical providers, educators, and state agencies working together to influence policy and improve services for individuals with autism and their families.  The council meets twice a year to share news and updates about autism specific events, programs, and activities as well as to address current challenges faced in access to services and supports for those impacted by autism.  Examples of recent topics addressed include the needs of adolescents and adults with autism and updates on autism insurance coverage.

More information about the WAAC and meeting minutes

Community Asset Mapping  For Early Identification and Diagnosis of Children with ASD

The Washington Autism Advisory Council held a summit in 2009 to address the long wait times for autism diagnoses at the limited number of centers providing evaluations at the time.  A sizable minority of the children being referred for an autism evaluation did not even have autism but their families were waiting a year or more to receive any help.  WAAC members explored how the diagnostic centers and WAAC could better support communities to 1)  increase local awareness of general child development, 2) support developmental screening in practices and early learning settings, and 3) where feasible, provide diagnostic evaluations in the community.  We called this approach “Community Asset Mapping” (CAM), because the idea was to identify and build on the strengths of each community in order to address priority gaps.

Funded by federal autism grants held by the Washington Department of Health and the UW LEND Program, Medical Home Partnerships Project and DOH staff  worked with the WAAC and  several pilot communities who were part of the Medical Home Leadership Network to pilot this approach. Diagnostic center clinician leaders  in particular have provided generous, volunteer technical assistance ranging from in-person presentations, consultation and community dialogues with CAM communities over the past several years.  Participating communities have improved communication among physicians, families and other service providers and between the local communities and the diagnostic centers.  They have also increased local identification of children with autism and other disorders and developed new services, including,  in some communities, the ability to evaluate and diagnose children locally.  More about CAM.

Additional Resources

  • My Child’s Map to Services (PDF) in English or  Mapa de los Servicios Para Mi Hijo Spanish/Espanol.
    This guide, developed by the Washington State Department of Health Children with Special Health Care Needs Program, offers information to parents about initial steps to take after their children receives a diagnosis of autism or other developmental disabilities. It offers answers to frequently asked questions to clarify the process of attaining services and supports. Additionally, it provides templates to help parents keep track of their child’s health and medical information.
  • Department of Health Autism Pages with additional resources and background information
  • Washington Autism Alliance and Advocacy’s  Provider/ Resource Directory