Autism task force report shows lacking services in N.D.

BISMARCK—Autism spectrum disorder services in North Dakota are inadequate, information is scarce, and training is needed for parents and professionals, a recent survey found.

Results from the state Autism Spectrum Disorder Task Force’s spring survey were included in an 11-page report presented Tuesday to state lawmakers on the interim Education Committee.

Survey responses said North Dakota needs more qualified individuals to deliver evidence-based services, and people need to know how to access autism spectrum disorder services.

The survey responses are a snapshot, not an official sample, said JoAnne Hoesel, the task force chairwoman.

“But it did give us some insight into what people are thinking about this situation in the state,” she said.

Rep. RaeAnn Kelsch, R-Mandan, called the report “enlightening.”

“When you look at the Legislature’s history in dealing with autism, we have been responsive,” she said. “Having this study and having this report, we’ll take this seriously. We will take a real strong look at what we need to do during the legislative session.”

The 2009 Legislature created the task force to study autism spectrum disorder and develop a state plan. The task force includes state officials, a pediatrician, a behavior analyst, parents and educators.

“These are individuals that work with individuals that have conditions on the spectrum,” said Hoesel of the Department of Human Services. “So I believe that it (the survey) confirmed what they see on, if not a daily basis, what they see and hear from individuals that they work with.”

The task force report pointed to a lack of accurate and localized information for parents, lack of standardized training for screening and long waits for diagnostic consultations.

Other barriers listed include inconsistent health insurance coverage for diagnosis and treatment, as well as limited service options for those who don’t qualify for developmental disabilities Medicaid waivers or the autism spectrum disorder waiver.

The report also said respite care is minimally available and insufficient to meet needs, and employment supports are lacking for individuals with the disorder.

Top survey suggestions and recommendations relate to training for educators, a resource list and school mistrust issues.

Popular responses to “What would you like included in our state plan for addressing autism?” were increase funding in education for these needs, train all teachers – not just special education teachers, and early identification and earlier intervention.

Hoesel said the role of the task force is to present the information and its recommendations to lawmakers for them to decide how to move forward.

Rep. Phil Mueller, D-Valley City, said he expects more specifics will be available about what the state needs to do and how much it will cost by the time the Legislature begins in January.

“The problem here is that most families cannot deal with these issues with their own resources. There has to be help,” he said. “I do think we need to do what we can do to assist the parents of these young folks with these afflictions to get the proper treatment for them.”

Hoesel said the task force will continue to meet to review and update the state plan.

“Parents have been dealing with this situation a long time. I want them to know that there’s formalized attention being paid to this,” Hoesel said.

“The task force takes their job seriously, and we’ll continue to monitor and inform the policymakers on what we hear from them and also what we hear from service providers in the state.”

A copy of the task force report can be found here: autism task force report.

3 thoughts on “Autism task force report shows lacking services in N.D.

  1. One of the points made was that services are lacking for those who do not qualify for the developmental disability label. Please note that this dearth of services exists for all students with disabilities. ND seems to have programs only for the DD population; however, the vast majority of students on IEP’s are not DD. The state needs to provide services, especially in the Transition area, for all students.
    I do, heartily agree that more training needs to be provided for all teachers.

  2. I am ever so grateful to hear that there maybe some changes coming to help kids with the autism spectrum. Our Daughter is 8 years old and is in the spectrum. She is very smart but has some very serious behavior issues. Because her academic level is at the top of her class. We have had to fight with the school every step and still are fighting to get her the services she needs. We have a behavior plan and an IEP but they seem to be neglected . So I have had to get Protection and Advocacy on board and even had to get an IEP facilitator. But for some reason, they just don’t want to or don’t know how to help her with her behavior issues. I get called to come get her from school or ESP so that they don’t have to deal with it and help her out. I feel she is being discriminated against and if I can help with your project please feel free to call or email me.

  3. Autism has a strong genetic basis, although the genetics of autism are complex and it is unclear whether ASD is explained more by rare mutations, or by rare combinations of common genetic variants.*.`^

    Consider our new web-site too
    <http://www.ideascollection.org

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