Georgia Autism Initiative

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The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) is committed to helping children and families with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and related developmental delays, through the DPH Georgia Autism Initiative.



What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Autism spectrum disorder is defined as a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. ASD affects 1 in 59 children in Georgia. The term “spectrum” refers to a wide range of signs, symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment. Individuals with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from others without ASD.

Purpose of the Autism Initiative

The Georgia Autism Initiative is the statewide coordination and delivery of services that improve capacity for early intervention, family coaching and support, transition planning, and provider training for infants and youth with ASD from birth to 21 years of age and their families.

The Georgia Autism Initiative collaborates with physicians and district coordinators to record and/or administer ASD specific screenings for early intervention. The Georgia Autism Initiative includes a network of licensed community psychologists and board-certified behavior analysts (BCBA) that provide diagnostic and behavioral intervention to improve outcomes of children and youth with ASD. Family coaching and support is offered through the development of individualized plans and support services.

To date, the Georgia Autism Initiative has offered provider training opportunities to licensed community psychologists, professionals seeking board-certified behavior analyst certification and educators. Psychologists have received training on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, 2nd Edition (ADOS-2), BCBA trainees have received required supervised field experience and educators have received technical assistance on adolescent to young-adulthood transition planning.

Why is the program important?

According to the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, on average children in Georgia are diagnosed at 4 years and 5 months, though a diagnosed can be done as early as 2 years of age.  An early diagnosis helps to ensure children receive timely and appropriate care.  It is important for all children to be screened for developmental delays, especially those children who are at a higher risk for developmental deficiencies due to pre-term birth, low birth weight, or having a brother or sister with ASD.

How many children have been helped by the program?

In 2019, over 3,500 children between the ages of 18 and 24 months were screened using the MCHAT-R/F for ASD across the state of Georgia.

Page last updated 11/26/2019