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Section IV. Currently Available Services and Gaps in Delaware

As described in the State of the State, Delaware has a rich array of educational and even adult services for individuals with classic autism. A subcommittee of the Legislative Task Force developed a survey to determine what services for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders exist who do not have the cognitive delays or mental illness that make them eligible for state services. The intent was to determine what services are available for individuals with high functioning autism, Asperger Disorder, and PDD-NOS.

The survey was sent to state agencies that serve individuals with disabilities, all the provider agencies with which they contract, and to affiliated groups including the National Association of Social Workers, the Delaware Psychological Association, and physicians who practice family practice or internal medicine, or who are specialists in practices most likely to address the needs of individuals on the spectrum such as neurology or gastroenterology.  There were 30 responses to more than 300 surveys sent. Results of the survey are in Appendix E.

With only a 10% response rate, findings are not considered statistically valid; however, they do support the perception that there are few services for adults with ASDs outside the traditional MR/DD system.

Highlights of the gaps that the Task Force found include the following:

There is a dearth of expertise in autism spectrum disorders within the professional/medical service providers in Delaware. While gaps appear in services across the spectrum, they are particularly evident for individuals with high functioning autism, Asperger Syndrome, PDD-NOS, and related disorders. Listed below are highlights of the needs.

Issues related to medical, therapeutic and professional needs:  It should be noted when addressing these issues, that therapies and professionals services are not separate, but must be addressed and delivered in a holistic manner using transdisciplinary approaches.

1.Communication Supports

"The higher the linguistic score of an adult with an ASD, the more likely the individual did well on other outcomes measures." Mawhood, Howlin, and Rutter (2004)iv

Research shows that 20-50% of adults with ASDs may not have sufficient speech or communication skills to meet their needs in daily living. If adults are going to have the most opportunities for success, their speech, communication and language needs must be addressed, including those of pragmatics.  This is especially true for higher functioning individuals. A large vocabulary and good grammar do not necessarily equate ease with the social use of language. 

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