The ASERT Collaborative has several ongoing projects. Some projects start in one region and others are offered statewide. Below are a few projects and initiatives the ASERT Collaborative is working on to help address unmet needs in Pennsylvania. The ASERT Collaborative uses data from multiple sources, including the Pennsylvania Autism Needs Assessment and the Pennsylvania Autism Census, to identify project priorities.
Pennsylvania Autism Census
The 2014 Pennsylvania Autism Census Update was released in the Fall of 2014 by the PA Department of Human Services, led by the ASERT Eastern Region. The Pennsylvania Autism Census is an administrative count of the number of individuals who are receiving services in public service systems. The 2014 update used data from multiple Pennsylvania systems. The full report, previous report, and a clickable map by county are available at paautism.org/census. Pennsylvania Autism Census data can be customized and catered data requests are available. Contact ASERT@drexel.edu to request specific data or reports.
Adult Community Autism Program (ACAP) and Adult Autism Waiver (AAW) Focus Groups
The Bureau of Autism Services (BAS) commissioned the ASERT Collaborative Eastern Region to conduct a series of focus groups in 2013-2014 to engage the two current BAS programs: the Adult Autism Waiver (AAW) and the Adult Community Autism Program (ACAP). ASERT facilitated dialogue among individuals who directly interact with these programs including: individuals with autism, families, service providers, and program administrators. Through this dialogue ASERT accumulated detailed knowledge about their experiences with AAW and ACAP. The results of this project informed program planning and helped to bridge program engagement with BAS, ASERT and service providers. Results of this initiative were communicated to individuals and families through community meetings and a formal report. In late 2015, ASERT conducted a second round of ACAP focus groups to learn if and how program experiences have changed since the first focus groups. Results from this second round of focus groups are in progress.
Psychosocial Rehabilitation for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Psychiatric Rehabilitation is a service offered to individuals with psychiatric diagnoses and is funded by Behavioral Health Managed Care Organizations. There are many existing programs across the state. There are eligibility criteria to include a formal psychiatric diagnosis for each participant. The goals of the service fall into five categories: Living, Learning, Socializing, Working and Self Maintenance. ASERT has been working with programs in the Western and Central regions of the state to assist counselors in their understanding of autism and enhance their capacity to serve adults with autism. Training continues to be provided to programs currently serving adults. Reference and training materials are in development and will be made available on the ASERT website upon completion. ASERT is also working with Behavioral Health Managed Care Organizations to identify this as a sustainable support for adults with autism across the state.
Justice System Projects
The ASERT Collaborative Eastern and Western Regions are working on several initiatives to prevent and improve justice system interactions among individuals with autism in Pennsylvania. ASERT is training justice system professionals on autism, and providing tools and supports to help describe how autism “looks” in communities. Trainings, tools and supports are available throughout the state. Please contact the ASERT Collaborative Eastern Region (ASERT@drexel.edu) if you are interested in a training.
Education of Emergency and Pre-Hospital Responders on the Care of Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder
ASERT has provided face to face training to over 500 Emergency Medical Service (EMS) and Emergency Department (ED) personnel. In collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and Health Services Council ASERT developed an online training for Emergency Medical Technicians (EMS) personnel across the state. Training courses have been approved by the DOH for CEU’s. Individuals with Autism in Emergency or Crisis Situations, Part 1: & 2 and A Guide for Emergency Department Personnel: Assessing and Treating Individuals with Autism. Resources such as a brochure entitled Assessing Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Emergency Department Brochure and Instrument to Prepare for Acute Care of the Individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Emergency Department have been developed and are available on the ASERT website: Tools to Support Emergency Room Personnel in the Treatment of Individuals with Autism
ASERT has developed a DVD and training manual for Emergency Room Staff. Please contact the ASERT Resource Center to obtain copies of these (firstname.lastname@example.org or 877-231-4244). These tools are being used in emergency rooms across the state.