In order to plant the seeds for the development of a regional state level collaborative approach and resource sharing the Task Force urges Delaware to take the lead in organizing a regional conference on autism with our surrounding states such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. With so many activities happening at the state level, this could offer opportunities to share knowledge, experience and resources.
8.Establish Diagnostic Standards and Eligibility Determination
The State should seek to establish statewide diagnostic standards and training for professionals to use when diagnosing autism disorders using evidenced based diagnostic tools. The State of Pennsylvania, through its newly established Bureau of Autism, recently launched an initiative to do this in Pennsylvania. Delaware should examine these initiatives and other similar initiatives at the State or Federal level and seek to collaborate with such programs in developing its own standards.
The definition of autism spectrum disorders should be re-visited on a regular basis, such as every five years, to ensure that practices are keeping up with research and changing trends.
Service agency eligibility includes both a diagnostic criteria and functional impairment criteria. An emphasis should be placed on a functional impairment criteria based on adaptive behavior that provides a fairly broad definition consistent with the communication and social skill deficits seen in individuals with autism spectrum disorders
9.Expand the Autism Registry
Because there is not good data on the number of adults with autism spectrum disorders in Delaware, the State should collate data across all ages in order to more reliably and accurately assessment of the size of the adult population so that it can be better prepared to plan for the needs of the relevant programs on an ongoing basis. This can most readily be done by expanding the use of the Autism Registry beyond age 18. The registry must be promoted, supported and fully implemented to be effective. The Task Force recommends that the registry is a public health issue rather than a service issue, and thus should remain in the Division of Public Health.
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