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The Issue

Children and families in many communities in Washington State are unable to access a timely assessment for autism or other developmental disabilities and get connected to helpful services.  They may wait many months for an autism evaluation at a distant tertiary care center because there is no option closer to home. Transportation and language barriers are also issues for many  families.

How Being Smart Can Help

The School Medical Autism Review Team (SMART) process can help.  SMART is a model that builds on and expands community capacity in rural and underserved communities that do not have access to a local multidisciplinary diagnostic center.

In the SMART approach, experienced pediatric primary care providers, schools, early intervention agencies, and families come together and share their knowledge and evaluation results in order to facilitate a virtual, comprehensive assessment of a child.   This process provides a close link between a child’s primary care provider (PCP) and school team, who sees the child on a daily basis.  Using a shared document, the SMART tool, families are able to collect records of evaluations from their school, early intervention agency, local providers, and pediatrician to inform an interdisciplinary evaluation and diagnosis of autism.

In combination with Autism Center of Excellence (COE) training through the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA), SMART is a mechanism that allows children to qualify for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy covered by Medicaid.

SMART Pathway

To view an example of the pathway a child goes through to get and autism diagnosis, Skagit County Multidisciplinary Autism Review Team put together this spreadsheet.  Credit goes to Kay Walter. for creating this document.  Each county has their own unique pathway based on the providers and services available in their community.

Who’s SMART?

SMART was initially developed and piloted by the Lewis County Autism Coalition. Four counties in Washington State (Lewis, Skagit, Island, and Whatcom) are currently using the SMART process to provide a comprehensive assessment for ASD for children in their local community.  Other counties developing their SMART teams include Chelan-Douglas, Cowlitz-Wahkiakum, Grays Harbor, Mason  and Pacific.

Support

There are quarterly Zoom videoconference calls connecting SMART teams in Washington, and periodic interactive webinars for clinicians diagnosing autism as part of a HCA Center of Excellence.

For More Information

Contact: Amy Carlsen, RN  carlsa@uw.edu University of WA, Medical Home Partnerships Project (MHPP).  The Washington State Department of Health, Healthy Starts and Transitions Unit provides funding for the MHPP technical support to communities.

Presentations/Posters:

Tools:

Lewis County Autism Coalition SMART Forms in English

Lewis County Autism Coalition SMART Forms in Spanish

      Whatcom Taking Action General Interdisciplinary Developmental Evaluation System (GIDES)

      Skagit Multidisciplinary Autism Review Team

Skagit Multidisciplinary Autism Review Team Forms in Spanish