April 2009

From the President

Autism Awareness

By Phyllis Sloyer, President, AMCHP 

This issue of Pulse is devoted to autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). For many of us, this has become our most recent sentinel issue. Even before the passage of the federal Combating Autism Act of 2006, I noticed billboards in my state alerting everyone that one in 150 children had autism. The increasing awareness of ASD led to the enactment of health insurance mandates in some states while in others the focus was on the “potential causes” of autism and concern that the condition was linked to immunizations. I believe the most striking aspect of ASD is a reaffirmation of the need for solid public health approaches in partnership with our health care providers. [read more]  

From the CEO

Autism Spectrum Disorder

By Mike R. Fraser, PhD

 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) brings together many maternal and child health issues including health policy and politics, healthcare financing and access, public health science and evidence-based decision making, family and professional partnerships, and the need for increased support for both research and practice at the state and local levels. There are so many unknowns when it comes to ASD that it is difficult to feel like there is anything we can do to address this growing issue and yet because of the prevalence of ASD it is essential that we act to address the challenges autism poses for our families and friends, our neighbors and communities. [read more


April is National Autism Awareness Month

By Marguerite Kirst Colston

Vice President, Marketing and Strategic Initiatives Autism Society of America

Established in the 1970s by Autism Society of America (ASA) advocates to highlight the growing need for concern and awareness about autism, National Autism Awareness Month presents a special opportunity for everyone to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community. With one in 150 Americans now being diagnosed, the need for services and supports are greater than ever, and this year ASA hopes to raise awareness of the many issues faced by families affected by autism. [read more

Interagency Committee Releases First Federal Strategic Plan for Autism Research

By Dr. Susan Daniels
Deputy Director, Office of Autism Research Coordination, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 

In March 2009, the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) released the first federal strategic plan for autism research. The document, called the IACC Strategic Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Research, advises the federal government on needs and priorities for autism biomedical and services research. The IACC strategic plan is organized around six critically important questions for people with ASD and their families regarding diagnosis, the biology of autism, risk factors, treatments and interventions, services and supports and issues faced by adolescents, adults and older adults with autism. [read more

It’s Time to Change How We View a Child’s Growth

By Georgina Peacock, MD, MPH, FAAP
CDC, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities 

Research shows that children with developmental delays benefit considerably from early intervention services, yet half of these children are not identified until age five. While parents are very aware of changes in their young child’s physical development, such as height and weight, there are also important milestones children should reach in terms of how they play, learn, speak and act. Smiling for the first time, making eye contact, and pointing are just a few of these developmental milestones. [read more

Real Life Stories

A Mother’s Gift that Keeps on Giving: A Son Living With Autism

By Sophie Arao-Nguyen, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Family Voices, Inc. 

It has been 15 and a half years since my son LJ got diagnosed with Language Disorder, then Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD NOS), then Autism, then now Asperger's Syndrome. Back in 1993, autism was still an unknown diagnosis in most circles. I am thankful that at that time I lived in the Bay area where disability resources, advanced medical research and cutting edge technology were the norm. [read more

Member to Member

In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, AMCHP asked the State Implementation Grantees funded through the Combating Autism Act Initiative, to answer the following question:

What is your team doing to raise awareness about autism in your state? 

[read more]


View from Washington

Autism Awareness Month

By Brent Ewig, MHA
Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs, AMCHP

Its springtime in Washington, and the debate about reforming our nation’s health system is about to take center stage. However, as this issue is focused on autism, it’s a perfect opportunity to highlight a few pieces of good news:
First, the recently passed FY 2009 omnibus appropriations bill included a $5.6 million increase for the Maternal and Child Bureau’s (MCHB) work authorized by The Combating Autism Act of 2006. As a refresher, this law authorized a program for early detection, education and intervention activities on autism and other developmental disorders. [read more]

Who's New

Spotlight on the New National Healthy Start Association Executive Director Stacey Cunningham

Our very own Stacey Cunningham, MSW, MPH was recently selected to be the next Executive Director of the National Healthy Start Association (NHSA) and lead the Association’s efforts to reduce infant mortality and provide support to Healthy Start programs nationwide. [read more

Get Involved 

Webcast on Improving Perinatal and Infant Oral Health
MCHB will host a webcast on “Engaging Providers to Improve Perinatal and Infant Oral Health: Innovative Strategies” on April 16 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. (EST). [read more]

Webcast on Medical Homes for Children
MCHB will host this webcast on April 21 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. (EST). [read more]

Webinar on Youth in an Online World
The Youth Intervention Programs Institute and the National Institute on Media and the Family will present a webinar on the opportunities, dangers and impacts for "Youth in an Online World” on April 21 from 10:30 a.m. to Noon (EST). [read more]

Upcoming AMCHP Board Meeting
The next AMCHP Board meeting will convene on Thursday, April 23, 2009 at 3 p.m. (EST) via teleconference. AMCHP Board meetings are open to the public and anyone interested in participating in the Board meeting is welcome to join the call. Please contact Nora Lam, Executive Assistant, for information about this upcoming meeting or call (202) 266-3038. 

Public Comment on Draft Voluntary National Accreditation Standards
The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) is developing and implementing a national voluntary accreditation program for state, local, territorial and tribal public health departments. [read more]

Seeking Nominations for National MCH Epidemiology Awards
The Coalition for Excellence in MCH Epidemiology announces the ninth year of the National MCH Epidemiology Awards. The Coalition is recruiting nominees for the 2009 awards. [read more]

Data and Trends

CSHCN Performance Measures and More
The Data Resource Center website (DRC) provides easy access to the most recent findings for your state on the MCHB CSHCN Performance Measures. Also available are findings on over 100 other measures relevant to assessing needs and system performance for children, youth and families. [read more

Autism, ASD and Other Developmental Disabilities
The 2005/06 NS-CSHCN contains national and state level data on autism and ASD. You can also find information on other behavioral conditions, emotional problems, Down Syndrome, and development delay. In the 2003 NSCH you can find additional national level data on developmental delay, behavior or conduct problems, ADHD and autism. [read more

Where in the U.S. is there an Autism Speaks Insurance Reform Initiative?
The map from Autism Votes provides a graphical representation of where each of the states stand with regard to their progress on creating an autism insurance reform law. [read more


View and download resources on Autism. [read more]

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