New Autism Guide

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First comprehensive guide to evidence-based interventions for individuals with autism spectrum disorders will be published this summer and it will be available at no cost.  A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one in 88 children in the U.S. has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a 78 percent increase in the last five years.

While researchers are still working to determine the causes of ASDs, a group of parents and professionals are focusing on improving the lives of those already diagnosed.  In conjunction with Autism Awareness Month, the Missouri Autism Guidelines Initiative has announced its development of the first comprehensive guide to evidence-based ASD interventions. Autism Spectrum Disorders: Guide to Evidence-based Interventions, will be published in Summer 2012.

“The Guide is unique because it brings together summaries of six recent nationally recognized systematic research reviews of evidence-based ASD interventions in a clear, concise manner both parents and professionals can understand,” says Bernard Simons, Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities for the Missouri Department of Mental Health.  The Guide is designed to help families, healthcare providers and educators make informed decisions about selecting and implementing ASD interventions. The project is sponsored by the Thompson Foundation for Autism, the Missouri Department of Mental Health, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Mercy Children’s Hospitals in St. Louis and Springfield.

“Evidence-based interventions are the current benchmark in the fields of healthcare and education,” says Ron Ashworth, board chair of Mercy Health Ministries and board member of the Thompson Foundation. “The Guide outlines evidence-based interventions while acknowledging that treatment and interventions for ASDs should be based on informed, individualized decisions.”

In addition to summarizing research reviews, the publication includes input from parents and professionals representing the knowledge and perspectives of families, educators, healthcare professionals and community-based service providers. Using a framework of evidence-based practice, the Guide outlines the intervention process, works to clarify the process and encourages collaboration between families and various service providers. “The Guide might prove to be the very best source for parents and professionals, including educators, to begin discussions about appropriate interventions for a child with ASD,” notes Stephen Barr, Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Special Education for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The Missouri Autism Guidelines Initiative is a collaboration between 50 parents and professionals with ASD experience who are working together to improve outcomes for those with ASDs. The Guide is the Initiative’s second publication, following a compilation of best practice guidelines for screening, diagnosis and assessment published in 2010. Both publications are available at no cost thanks to support from the Missouri Foundation for Health. To order Autism Spectrum Disorders: Guide to Evidence-based Interventions, visit www.autismguidelines.dmh.mo.gov. The companion publication, Missouri Best Practice Guidelines for Screening, Diagnosis, and Assessment is available online.

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Written by Pamela Settle, owner of Light Shine Media Group and publisher of GoodLiving® Magazine. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced without permission.

GoodLiving Magazine® is printed six times a year for families in Pinellas County, Florida, home to municipalities including Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Largo and St. Petersburg. The densest county in Florida, population is near 1 Million people. Past issues are available for viewing digitally on the website.

As an advocate for children and families, Pamela Settle serves as the local committee chairperson for The Children’s Movement of Florida, a non-partisan advocacy organization that works on behalf of the well being of children throughout the State of Florida.