The Public Health Fund has awarded the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute a one-year, $50,000 grant to help measure the effectiveness of an innovative, web-based instructional system called Autism Navigator™ in the Pennsylvania Early Intervention system. Autism Navigator™ was developed by Florida State University to increase the capacity of healthcare and childcare service providers, educators, and families to appropriately serve young children with or at risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
According to the CDC Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring site in Pennsylvania, about 1 in 75 individuals are affected by autism spectrum disorders. Early Intervention providers are often the first professionals who will have contact with children at risk for ASD. The right diagnosis at that initial point of contact can greatly impact whether children receive the appropriate services.
As part of the Public Health Fund grant, researchers from the Autism Institute—led by Institute director and Drexel University School of Public Health professor Dr. Craig Newschaffer—will determine if roll out of the Autism Navigator™ on a voluntary basis in selected counties in Pennsylvania is effective in helping Early Intervention providers identify and treat ASD. The Navigator is being rolled out in four founding states—Florida, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Georgia.
A mixed-methods approach will be used through free-text analysis of assessment forms and ASD prevalence changes in county-level administrative data. The quality of Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSP), which document and guide the Early Intervention process for families, and Individualized Education Plans (IEP), which outline each child's education plan, will also be reviewed.
The ultimate goal is to lay the groundwork for future individual-level analyses that will allow data to be linked from individual providers to children who are assessed to receive IFSPs and IEPs. For more information on the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, please contact AutismInstitute@drexel.edu.
About Public Health Fund
The Public Health Fund, an affiliate of the Public Health Management Corporation, is a foundation that has fostered health care delivery, research and education in the greater Delaware Valley since 1996, formerly as Philadelphia Health Care Trust. Public Health Fund’s mission is to improve the health of the Delaware Valley community through innovative and effective public health initiatives. For more information on Public Health Fund, please visit www.phf1.org and to learn more about the Public Health Management Corporation, please visit www.phmc.org.