One in 44 American children has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although many critical time periods exist for these individuals, families are most vulnerable during early childhood and late adolescence. In early childhood, there is opportunity to identify ASD early and deploy life-changing interventions. In adolescence, youth with ASD transition out of child-focused services and begin to navigate new landscapes of college education, housing, and the job market. Successful development of interventions targeted at these specific points in time will create better school outcomes in childhood and better functional outcomes in adulthood.
The Hassenfeld Institute aims to work with a culturally diverse workforce of community health workers (CHWs) to accomplish the following during these critical timepoints for families:
- Decrease the age of ASD diagnosis and increase engagement in therapeutic services through universal ASD screening and navigation to services.
- Develop a comprehensive, statewide ASD transition program that assists families of youth with ASD in navigating resources for postsecondary education, housing, and job training.