2013-03-21 / Lifestyles

State announces autism plan to address, improve systems

LANSING – The Michigan Department of Community Health and the Michigan Autism Council recently released the Michigan Autism Spectrum Disorders State Plan. This plan represents another major step to addressing the many needs of the 16,000 students with ASD in our public school system and the 50,000 individuals and their families living with ASD in our state.

“Today marks another significant day for Michigan and our efforts to help families and individuals with autism,” said Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. “It was an honor to sign the autism insurance legislation last year and I’m glad to see that our efforts have not stopped there. We have a great opportunity in front of us with this plan. I’m eager to see the progress Michigan will continue to make.”

The Michigan ASD State Plan was created by development and advisory committees, led by Amy Matthews, Ph. D., of Grand Valley State University. The committees were comprised of 51 individuals including the Michigan Departments of Community Health, Education, Human Services, and Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, parents, adults on the autism spectrum, educators, agency/ organization professionals, health care providers, university faculty, state grant project staff, and state government personnel.

“This important first step, the Michigan ASD State Plan, will make a substantial difference in the lives of individuals with ASD and their families,” said James K. Haveman, Director of the MDCH. “Implementing the recommendations identified in this plan will require collaborative efforts across public and private sectors, and we know that as we work towards applying these goals in our state, we will be better equipped to serve Michigan residents.”

Data used in the preparation of the plan was gathered from a variety of sources including literature reviews, other published reports and recommendations, parent and professional surveys, public input, and expert opinion.

“It is our hope and belief that this plan will prompt many individuals and organizations to be actively engaged with us to address the significant needs of all individuals with ASD in Michigan,” said Colleen Allen, Ph.D., Chair of the Michigan Autism Council and President/CEO of the Autism Alliance of Michigan. “The development committee gave years of volunteer service researching the needs of Michigan families and creating a plan that will greatly improve our systems of care for individuals with ASD and their families.

• The key focus areas identified in the Michigan ASD State Plan are:

• Infrastructure: System, Service, and Resource Coordination

• Family Engagement and Involvement

• Early Identification and Intervention Services

• Educational Supports and Services

• Adult Supports and Services

• Physical, Mental, and Behavioral Health Care

• Training and Professional Development

The development of the plan included identifying current best practices in supporting individuals with ASD of all ages, reviewing current practice in Michigan across key priority areas, identifying gaps between best practice and current practice in Michigan, and making recommendations for improving services and outcomes. The ultimate goal of this plan is to guide future planning, decision making, and resource allocation to meet the needs of individuals and families living with ASD.

For more information about Michigan’s efforts to address autism and to view the Michigan ASD State Plan, visit www.michigan.gov/autism.

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