Improving autism intervention

a mother and child at a computer

Early identification, treatment, and intervention helps Minnesota's children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities reach their potential. Yet some families can encounter waitlists of up to a year for evaluation services.

Part of the reason for this wait is geography: while most autism evaluation clinics are located in the Twin Cities, the families of children with autism live all over the state.

That’s why researchers like Jessica Simacek at the University of Minnesota's Institute on Community Integration’s are collaborating with the Autism Spectrum and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Clinic at the U of M Department of Pediatrics to shorten waitlists and improve access to early intervention for children with autism.

"Too many children and their families face barriers to accessing intervention services," says Simacek, who has managed the telehealth lab since it began a year ago.

Telehealth refers to using telecommunications devices like smart phones and home computers to support long-distance clinical health care, health management, and education.

The lab provides training and technical assistance to enable providers, educators, and researchers to improve and extend their practices.

“The lab allows us to use technology to reach children and families who may live in rural areas or may be on lengthy waitlists for intervention,” says Simacek.

And with U of M research showing the importance of early diagnosis for an autistic child’s future success, researchers believe the lab will improve access to autism intervention tools.


This story appeared in original form at ICI Telehealth. ICI is a federally designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.