State Spotlight: Alaska

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Alaska is the largest and most rural of the original six demonstration grants. Alaska's team consisted of the state Title V program, Governor's Council on Disabilities, Medicare Part C, UAA/UCEDD, Behavioral Health, Tribal Health, Family Voices, and other partners.

To view Alaska's State Grantee Profile, click here.

To learn more about Alaska's work, visit the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Autism webpage here.

Project Activities

Alaska aimed to improve early identification of ASD/DD in rural areas of Alaska, link identified children to Part C for financial support of services, and align project activities with the Governor's Council's State Autism Plan and Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems. The activities are described below.

Engaging Individuals, Agencies, and Departments

Alaska facilitated extensive committee work and planning to identify membership, set goals, and begin the work by teasing out priorities with a focus on broad objectives.  

At the first planning meeting, they recommended dividing into two primary focus areas:  

  • Screening/Training Subcommittee
  • Media/Awareness/Outreach Subcommittee. 

The Steering Committee met quarterly and the subcommittees (meeting every other month) further teased out goals and responsibilities, and moved to more focused workgroups.  

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Autism Awareness Month

The Media/Awareness/Outreach Subcommittee Picture of Dr. Cowan and Alaska's workgroup member kicked-off to a Statewide Awareness Campaign in April (Autism Awareness Month).

Some of the activities included:

  • Fundraisers
  • Book Fairs
  • Education Expos
  • Professional Education

In order to increase accessibility of the tools and resources from their Awareness Month, the subcommittee created a webpage to have a hub for valuable tools and resources related to autism and developmental screening.

To view Alaska's Autism webpage, click here.

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Parents as Partners

The team worked with the Stone Soup Group, Family Voices, Chats/Blogs, and other parent groups to accomplish the following goals:

  • Build relationships with families
  • Build on successful systems of care
  • Collaborate to address area of need

At the conclusion of this program, a parent advisory group was developed to make recommendations and help set priorities.

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Online Training Module

Alaska developed an online training module that aimed to train rural providers and residents so they could be "Rapid Respondents." The modules focused on areas such as:

  • Knowledge about Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • First signs of Autism
  • How screening and evaluation are completed
  • What the Alaska system looks like
  • Best practice approaches and interventions

To view the Online Training Module, click here.

Successes & Lessons Learned

Alaska faced significant geographical and financial challenges in delivering services to families with children diagnoses with ASD. Successes included the Online Training Module, an ASD insurance mandate, the autism webpage and parent advisory group.

To access more of Alaska's resources through SPHARC's search engine, click here.