The Department of Mental Health’s Division of Developmental Disabilities funds five regional autism projects that collectively provide services to approximately 4000 families statewide. The first project was established in 1991 after families in rural Missouri approached legislators to ask for autism-specific family support. As a result of these efforts, authorities were established and funding was secured for family-centered services for individuals with autism spectrum disorders throughout the state. Parent Advisory Councils (PACs) were formed to represent and oversee each autism project and to make recommendations for service needs. Each regional autism project Parent Advisory Council elects members to sit on the Missouri Parent Advisory Committee on Autism, which serves as a statewide liaison for the regional councils and the division.

The council on State Governments featured the Missouri Autism Projects in its June 1996 issue of State Innovations Briefs: New and Best Practices in State Government. State Innovations Briefs highlight award-winning programs in state government selected by state leaders and managers.

Hierarchy of Authority:

  1. Missouri Revised Statutes Section 633.220
  2. Code of State Regulations 9 CSR 45-3.060
  3. By-laws (see specific committee / project below)

MO Parent Advisory Committee/Autism Projects:

Autism Project Services May Include:

  • Assessment
  • Advocacy training;
  • Behavior management training and supports
  • Communication and language therapy;
  • Consultation on individualized education and habilitation plans;
  • Crisis intervention;
  • Information and referral assistance;
  • Life skills;
  • Music therapy;
  • Occupational therapy, sensory integration therapy, and consultation;
  • Parent or caregiver training;
  • Public education and information dissemination;
  • Respite care; and
  • Staff training

Each regional project shall each have parent advisory committee composed of persons with autism, including family members that are young children, school-age children, and adults, and who have met the division's eligibility requirements to be served as defined under section 630.005, RSMo. Members of a regional parent advisory committee shall be Missouri residents. No member shall be a service provider, a member of a service provider's board of directors, or an employee of a service provider or the division.

Members are nominated by the parent advisory committee for three-year terms and appointed by the Deputy Director and Assistant Director. Annual elections for Chair, Vice-chair, and Secretary are held in July. Attendance and participation at parent advisory committee meetings are strongly encouraged for persons that have family members with autism, persons with autism, other interested parties, and the general public.

The committee’s responsibilities shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Advocacy;
  • Contract monitoring;
  • Review of annual Department of Mental Health (department) audits of projects;
  • Recommendation of services to be provided based on input from families;
  • Recommendation of policy, budget and service priorities;
  • Monthly review of service delivery;
  • Planning;
  • Public education and awareness;
  • Recommendation of service providers to the division for administration of the projects;
  • Recommendation of contract cancellation