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The State of the State of Delaware

The reader of this report should understand that Delaware has a unique history of services for individuals with autism that is described below. That history is limited to children and adults with classic autism and does not extend to individuals who are considered “high functioning” or who have a diagnosis that is considered part of the spectrum such as Asperger’s Disorder/Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder—Not Otherwise Specified (PDD—NOS) or other disabilities with characteristics of autism spectrum disorders such as non-verbal learning disabilities.

(1)The Delaware Autism Program (DAP) is a 29 year-old statewide educational program for children with autism that is housed in six school districts across all three counties. Children with autism typically enter public instruction at age three; have an extended school year and respite program available to them; have curricula that addresses their communication, teaching and behavioral needs, and may continue in school until age 21. The DAP was created for children with classic autism and policies about accepting children with other spectrum disorders vary by school district. Not every child with autism is accepted into the DAP, but more than 600 children are enrolled statewide. As the program grows, the number of students graduating into adult programs is also growing, reaching between 15 and 25 graduates per year.

(2)The Division of Developmental Disabilities Services has traditionally offered services and supports to adults with autism and a cognitive disability. Most DDDS contracted agencies have not developed services and supports specific to autism because of small numbers and higher costs. For the last 19 years, individuals with autism who have had significant behavioral challenges including aggression and self injury have been served in the Adult Special Populations (ASP) program. ASP was initially started to address the needs of adults with severe behavioral problems who were aging out of education, or who had been placed in out of state programs that used intensive therapy and in some cases, physical punishment. While not created only for individuals with autism, the majority of the adults served have this diagnosis. The three major provider agencies that ASP contracts with have developed a degree of skill in addressing the support needs of this population. Funding for individuals in the Adult Special Populations Program has typically been higher than other individuals in the Division due to their increased support needs.

Recent changes within the Division have resulted in portable individual rates, based on the results from the Inventory for Client and Agency Planning (ICAP). This has replaced the previous system which was based on negotiation and allows individuals to choose service providers. Admission to ASP has always been limited and this new process addresses funding discrepancies which may have existed based on program participation, not individual need.  With these changes, all individuals entering DDDS will be served through the Community Services program and Special Populations as a specific program will be folded into Community Services. For individuals for whom the ICAP may not fully capture their behavioral or medical support needs, an exception

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