State Spotlight: Missouri

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Missouri's project aimed to improve access to comprehensive, coordinated health care and related services for Missouri children and youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. In 2007, a statewide Blue Ribbon Panel on Autism reviewed gaps in care and made recommendations for strategies to address the unmet needs of individuals with ASD, their families and professionals, and helped set the stage for the Missouri State Implementation grant. These, along with many prior and subsequent, efforts led to the development of Missouri's "Show-Me State Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorders" in 2011.

To learn more about Missouri's work, contact Dr. Janet Farmer at

Project Activities

Care Coordination and Family SupportsMissouri Navigation Guide.PNG

The project implemented a care coordination model for children with ASD at three diagnostic and treatment centers across the state. Elements of the model included family resource specialists and family mentors:

Family Resource Specialists:

  • Identified unmet child and family needs
  • Linked families to needed information and resources
  • Supported effective communication among families, primary and specialty care providers, and other community professionals. 

Family Mentors:

  • Provided emotional support through parent-to-parent mentoring
  • Partnered with the statewide Sharing-Our-Strengths program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City for sustainability

To view Missouri's Navigation Guide, click here.

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Family-Professional Partnerships

The project has created a model program to enhance family-professional partnerships. Some of the results of these family-professional partnerships include:

  • An ASD Family-Centered Care Survey
  • ASD Family-Professional Task Force
  • ASD Quality Improvement strategies

Additionally, one of Missouri's partners, the University of Missouri-Kansas City Institute for Human Development (UMKC-IHD), developed a method to prepare families for leadership and advocacy roles.

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Learning Collaboratives

Learning collaboratives were established to improve the quality of care for individuals with ASD in community settings. This involves bringing together key stakeholders, setting goals for quality improvement and taking action to achieve these goals. These learning collaboratives include:

  • Central Missouri Rapid Response Initiative: This pilot project in central Missouri was designed to build community capacity for timely access to ASD screening, diagnosis, and evidence-based interventions for children 0-5 years and their families. Community professionals worked together to enhance awareness of ASD, build child and family support systems, and encourage rapid access to high quality, coordinated care
  • St. Louis Rapid Response Initiative
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Youth Transition Activities

The ASD Youth Coalition brought together individuals with ASD, families, and service providers to focus on activities in Missouri that would better support the transition from adolescence to adulthood for those with ASD. The Coalition worked on developing an ASD-specific training module that would provide an overview of services needed for a successful transition to adulthood for youth with ASD. 

The Youth Advisory Council was comprised primarily of youth with special healthcare needs, including ASD and other developmental disabilities. The group convened a series of focus groups across the state and developed training materials to help educate youth, their families, and service providers on the services needed for a successful healthcare transition and how to obtain those services.

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Systems Change

The Missouri Autism Guidelines Initiative partnered with Missouri's team to provide leadership in the development of Missouri’s best practice guidelines for ASD screening, diagnosis and assessment for treatment planning.

The Thompson Center Autism Intervention Conference focused on topics that have the potential to improve comprehensive and coordinated care, such as:

  • Transitions across the lifespan
  • Best practice guidelines
  • Care coordination strategies
  • Workshops on evidence-based treatments included in the National ASD Standards of Care

Successes & Lessons Learned

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