Traverse City Record-Eagle


March 19, 2013

State reveals goals for autism services

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State health officials laid out long-term goals Monday designed to improve access to services for the estimated 50,000 people living with autism spectrum disorders in Michigan, including more early screening and the creation of a state resource center to provide families with information about services.

The Autism Spectrum Disorders State Plan revealed by the Michigan Department of Community Health and Autism Council identifies gaps in the availability of services and makes recommendations for how to improve the lives of adults and children with autism spectrum disorders. The group of developmental brain disorders includes autism, Asperger syndrome and Rett syndrome.

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, whose daughter in kindergarten has been diagnosed with autism, said the overall goal is that eventually, “Michigan will be the place to be if you’re a family that is living with an autism spectrum disorder.”

The plan calls for increased early screening for autism spectrum disorders by primary care providers to allow those who need treatment to get it sooner.

According to the report, many primary care providers are not aware of the early signs of autism spectrum disorders. The report calls for more and better training of primary care providers to help them identify symptoms that could point to a disorder.

Amy Matthews, vice-chair of the Autism Council, said the number of children diagnosed with autism is “continuing to rise dramatically.” According to the report, one in every 88 children is affected by an autism spectrum disorder today.

Another area the state needs to focus on is services for adults on the autism spectrum, according to the report.

More than 45 percent of parents with children ages 13 to 25 said they needed better access to things like higher education and employment services to help their child transition to adulthood, according to the report.

The report calls for the creation of a state resource center where adults living with autism and their families can get information and be connected to available services.

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