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What is the Missouri Autism Guidelines Initiative?

The Missouri Autism Guidelines Initiative is sponsored by the Thompson Foundation for Autism; the Division of Developmental Disabilities, Missouri Department of Mental Health; the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; and Mercy Children's Hospital - St. Louis and Springfield. These project sponsors were brought together by their shared belief that current research and scientific data would help inform parents and professionals for earlier, more accurate screening, diagnosis, assessment and intervention for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).

Why is this Initiative important?

Early and accurate diagnosis of ASDs facilitates access to interventions that improve the quality of life and functioning of these children and their families.

What was the catalyst for the Initiative?

The Initiative is a direct outcome of the State of Missouri’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Autism, convened by State Sen. Mike Gibbons in 2007. The Panel recommended that “...a committee of major stakeholders ...is established...to adopt screening, diagnosis, assessment and treatment standards for Missouri.”

What are outcomes of the Initiative?

The Initiative’s 2010 publication is a set of clear, concise guidelines supported by an innovative conceptual framework that will enhance the likelihood that every child in Missouri, regardless of age, income, ethnicity or region, is screened, diagnosed and assessed properly. In 2012, a companion publication focused on evidence-based interventions was published.

Who serves on the Missouri Autism Guidelines Initiative?

The Initiative is comprised of more than 50 autism experts and stakeholders from across Missouri including:

  • Healthcare professionals;
  • Educators, including higher education;
  • Service providers;
  • Parents of individuals with ASDs; and
  • Representatives of the Division of Developmental Disabilities.

What is their role?

Those selected agreed to collaborate to set the policies underlying the documents; to review the newest science in ASD screening, diagnosis, assessment and intervention; to inform their stakeholder groups of the process driving the guidelines; and to assist in embedding the documents in the organizations which they represent.

How do I obtain a copy of the publications?

Both publications are available online, thanks to a grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health.

What other materials are available about the Guidelines?

To help clinicians, families, educators, and service providers quickly and easily identify the key points of the publications, the Initiative also produced a collection of overviews and stakeholder-specific brochures. These materials can be downloaded or ordered from this web site.

How can I get more information about autism in the state of Missouri?

You can visit http://thompsonfoundation.org/ and www.dmh.missouri.gov/mrdd/new/autism09.htm

Autism Spectrum Disorders: Guide to Evidence-based Interventions can be ordered at no cost or can be downloaded now, along with its Summary. The 2010 companion guide, Autism Spectrum Disorders: Missouri Best Practice Guidelines for Screening, Diagnosis, and Assessment is available online, along with overviews for families, clinicians and service providers and educators.