Missouri Autism Rapid Response Initiative

What do we know about Autism Spectrum Disorders?

  • Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities defined by significant delays in social interaction and communication.
  • Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that appears during the first three years of life. Studies show that ASD can be diagnosed as early as 18 months.
  • The current autism prevalence rate in children is about 1 in 110. 
  • The diagnosis of autism has increased more than tenfold in the last decade.

What is Central Missouri’s response?

The Central Missouri Autism Rapid Response Initiative is a collaborative, community-based group of parents and agency providers in the mid-Missouri area who aim to:

  • Increase the number of children who are routinely screened for Autism Spectrum Disorders,
  • Improve access to timely and accurate diagnosis for individuals at risk for ASD,
  • Improve access to timely and effective interventions for individuals with ASD, and
  • Provide family members with education and supports.

Begun in 2006, the Initiative is sponsored by the Missouri Division of Developmental Disabilities Office of Autism Services. 

Accomplishments of the Central Missouri Rapid Response Initiative

  • Established a community network that supports comprehensive and coordinated care
  • Developed two online resource brochures for families and providers
  • Developed two training modules: Understanding Autism and ASD Screening and Referral
  • Contributed to the development of the Office of Autism Services’ “Navigating Autism Services: A Community Guide for Missouri” for families and providers
  • Partnered with the Missouri Medical Association to develop a resolution to encourage all physicians to include autism screenings in well-child visits no later than 18 months of age
  • Worked with the First Steps program to expand eligibility for early intervention services to all children with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.
  • Served as an advisory group for the development and implementation of a federal grant entitled Rapid Response Project: Implementing Missouri’s ASD Roadmap that expands this project to other areas of Missouri.

Impact of the Central Missouri Rapid Response Initiative

  • Increase in trainee knowledge about autism and screening and referral practices 
  • Increase in the number of children evaluated for ASD 
  • Improved provision of education and supports to family members
  • Positive impact on communication and collaboration among community professionals 

Next steps for the Central Missouri Rapid Response Initiative

  • Develop trainings on autism interventions and youth transition
  • Enhance the focus on transition resources for youth with ASD and their families
  • Contribute to the development of Rapid Response collaboratives in other areas of the state

Central Missouri Rapid Response Initiative Representation

  • Parents
  • Autism Speaks
  • Boone County Family Resources
  • Central Missouri Community Action – Head Start
  • Central Missouri Regional Office
  • Child Care Aware of Missouri
  • Columbia Public Schools
  • Columbia Public Schools – Early Childhood Special Education
  • Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Department of Health and Senior Services Healthy Families & Youth
  • Department of Mental Health Division of Developmental Disabilities Office of Autism Services
  • First Steps
  • Heart of Missouri United Way
  • Judevine Center for Autism
  • Missouri School Board Association
  • MU Center for Family Policy & Research
  • MU Human Environmental Sciences – Extension
  • MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders
  • Parents as Teachers – Columbia
  • Parents as Teachers – National Center
  • ParentLink
  • Project ACCESS
  • Project Reach
  • St. Louis Public Schools
  • St. Louis University
  • TouchPoint Autism Services
  • University of Missouri-Columbia
  • University of Missouri-Columbia Sinclair School of Nursing

See Missouri’s Autism Research and Response Agenda.