State Health Commissioner Announces $600,000 Federal Grant to Support Autism Spectrum Disorders Initiative

Funding Targets Young Children With Autism in New York State

Albany, N.Y. (July, 17, 2009) – State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., announced today that the Department of Health (DOH) will improve access to health care and other services for young children with autism in New York State with a two-year, $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration.

"Autism affects a growing number of children in New York State," said Commissioner Daines. "It is estimated that 33,000 children and youth with special health care needs from birth to 17 years of age have autism. This federal grant will help increase the number of pediatricians and other primary care providers who perform screening among all New York children at 18 and 24 months. With Governor Paterson's support, we continue to strive for early identification and treatment that can lead to lifelong improvements in health, development, and function."

This grant will help implement and sustain a system of family-centered care that provides for the early identification and treatment of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. More specifically, the grant will support increased use of evidence-based interventions, improved identification, diagnosis, intervention and treatment, and help smooth transitions for those with ASD into preschool special education.

ASD are a group of severe disorders of development that can disrupt social relationships and communication, play, and academic skills. About 1 out of 150 children are diagnosed with an ASD. It is critical to identify and refer children with ASD as soon as possible to an Early Intervention Program.

New York State's Early Intervention Program (EIP) is part of the national Part C of IDEA program for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. New York's EIP offers a variety of therapeutic and support services to eligible New York children and their families. These services include:

  • Family education and counseling, home visits and parent support groups;
  • Special instruction;
  • Speech pathology and audiology;
  • Occupational and physical therapy;
  • Psychological services,
  • Nursing, nutrition, vision, and social work services; and
  • Assistive technology devices and services.

The number of children with ASD enrolled in New York's EIP nearly doubled from 1,939 children in 2002-2003 to 3,795 in 2007-2008. Established in 1993, EIP is administered by DOH through the Bureau of Early Intervention and is the largest program in the nation. This program serves approximately 70,000 infants and toddlers with special needs and their families each year.

Together with coalition partners, DOH will carry out grant activities as part of the New York Autism Platform, which is overseen by the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. The Autism Platform is a multifaceted and comprehensive interagency plan to help improve the statewide service delivery system for individuals with ASD and their families.

DOH is also a leader in providing services to children with autism and outreach to parents and clinicians. Since 1999, DOH has issued a series of six groundbreaking Clinical Practice Guidelines which provide "best practices" for assessment and intervention of young children with disabilities. Funding from the federal grant will be used to update and disseminate the autism clinical practice guidelines.

For more information about the New York State Early Intervention Program, please visit http://www.nyhealth.gov/community/infants_children/early_intervention/.

Additional information about autism is available at http://www.nyhealth.gov/community/infants_children/early_intervention/autism/.