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Results of the Combating Autism Act Initiative: HRSA’s Efforts to Improve ASD Service Delivery Through LEND Training Program Grants

This report presents the results of a 3-year study conducted by an external evaluator to assess the performance of HRSA grant programs in meeting the objectives of the CAAI. The study did not attempt to measure long-term outcomes, such as changes in the average age of first screening, because these impacts would generally not be discernible within 3 years. Instead, the study measured results of the grantees’ efforts in the areas of training, awareness building, research, and building comprehensive systems of care for ASD, all of which are expected to contribute to the realization of the CAAI’s long-term goal.

Results of the Combating Autism Act Initiative: HRSA’s Efforts to Improve ASD Service Delivery Through DBP Training Program Grants

Under the authority of the 2006 Combating Autism Act (CAA), the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) introduced the Combating Autism Act Initiative (CAAI) in September 2008. As part of the CAAI, MCHB provided supplemental grants to six existing grantees within the Maternal and Child Health Leadership Education in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics (DBP) Training Program to focus on autism and related developmental disability education, early detection, and intervention. This report presents the results of a 3-year study to assess the DBP programs’ performance in meeting the goals and objectives of the CAAI.

The goal of the CAAI is to enable all children to reach their full potential by developing a system of services that includes a) screening children early for possible autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disorders (DD); b) conducting early, interdisciplinary evaluations to confirm or rule out ASD and other DD; and c) if a diagnosis is confirmed, providing evidence-based, early interventions. In support of these goals, the objectives of the DBP programs were to:

  •  Increase awareness of ASD
  •  Reduce barriers to screening and diagnosis and improve systems of care
  •  Translate ASD-related research into practice
  •  Train professionals to use valid and reliable screening and diagnostic tools
  •  Train professionals to provide advocacy, counseling, and coordination of care

This study collected and analyzed qualitative and quantitative grantee data to assess the grantees’ short-term and intermediate progress in meeting these objectives as well as setting the foundation for measuring the grantees’ progress toward the CAAI long-term goals of early screening, diagnosis, and intervention.

Results of the Combating Autism Act Initiative: HRSA’s Efforts to Improve Medical and Behavioral Interventions for ASD Through the MCH Autism Intervention Research Grant Program

Under the authority of the Combating Autism Act (CAA), the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) implemented the Combating Autism Act Initiative (CAAI) in September 2008. The CAA was designed to address the public health emergency posed by the growing prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and the lack of adequate research, effective treatments, and services to address this growing crisis. In 2008, MCHB established the MCH Autism Intervention Research Program and funded two new research networks: the Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P) and the Autism Intervention Research Network on Behavioral Health (AIR-B). One year later, MCHB awarded seven R40 MCH Autism Intervention Research Program grants to conduct research to improve the health and well-being of children and adolescents with ASD. Together, these grants focused on conducting research on evidence- based practices for intervention, developing clinical guidelines and tools, and disseminating information. This report presents the results of a 3-year study to assess the grantees’ performance in meeting the goals and objectives of the CAAI.

The goal of the CAAI is to enable all children to reach their full potential by developing a system of services that includes a) screening children early for possible ASD and other developmental disorders (DD); b) conducting early, interdisciplinary evaluations to confirm or rule out ASD and other DD; and c) if a diagnosis is confirmed, providing evidence-based, early interventions. In support of these goals, the objectives of the MCH Autism Intervention Research Program under the CAAI were to:

  1. Support research studies that a) advance the current knowledge base pertaining to ASD and b) lead to improvements in interventions that address the physical and behavioral health needs of children and adolescents with ASD
  2. Promote development of evidence-based guidelines for the assessment and treatment of ASD
  3. Validate tools for ASD intervention
  4. Disseminate information

This study collected and analyzed both qualitative and quantitative data to assess the grantees’
short-term and intermediate progress in meeting these objectives as well as to establish the foundation for measuring the grantees’ progress toward the CAAI long-term goals of early screening, diagnosis, and intervention.