The new Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders began meeting in January 2022 with a renewed focus on its mission and to produce an “Autism Roadmap for Missouri” to cover the lifespan of every person living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
This roadmap will discuss best practices for care and services within healthcare, education, vocational support, and community resources. The Commission’s efforts will include a targeted review of existing autism resources, initiatives and funding; identify unmet needs and gaps; and provide tangible recommendations for system improvements. Guided by House Bill 432 the Commission’s work will be conducted in four phases for those living with ASD: 1) transitioning to adulthood; 2) early identification and intervention; 3) access to care; and 4) challenging behaviors and crisis care.
The Commission will submit a report to the Governor and the Director of the Department of Mental Health upon completion of each phase. A final document summarizing all completed tasks will be submitted at the completion of all the phases.
ASD is a complex developmental disability, referring to a broad range of conditions characterized by difficulties with social interactions, challenging and repetitive behaviors, and difficulties with speech and communication. The range and severity of symptoms can vary widely from mild impairment to significant cognitive, behavioral, and physical impairment.
There is no cure for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Due to the unique range of needs and challenges among individuals with ASD, there is no one-size fits all treatment either. ASD treatment often consists of a combination of therapies, interventions, and medications. ASD treatment goals include maximizing an individual’s ability to function independently and enhancing their development and learning. Early intervention and ongoing support can help individuals learn critical social, communication, and behavior skills.
The following is the list of members on the Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorder:
Dr. John Mantovani (Chair), Mercy Kids Autism Center
Dr. Cy Nadler, Children’s Mercy Hospital
Dr. Stephen Sheinkopf, Thompson Center
Dr. Seth Allen, Burrell Behavioral Health
Dr. Kristin Sohl, University of Missouri – School of Medicine
Jeanne Marshall, Easterseals Midwest
Tim Dygon, The Arc of the Ozarks
Laci Maltbie, Sherwood Autism Center
Vicky Mieseler, Ozark Center
Dr. Loretta Fuge, Greater Ozarks Rural Psychologist
Luke Daily, Vocational Rehabilitation
Kandice LaGasse, Preferred Family Healthcare
Dr. Lateshia Woodley, Kansas City Public Schools
Dr. Ben O’Connor, BDJ Special Education Cooperative
Summer Bridges, Parent
Rev. Dale Stone, Parent
Claire Ridgeway, Individual with Autism
Spencer Hunley, Individual with Autism
Mark Wheatley, Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education
Dr. Lindsay Athamanah, University of Missouri – St. Louis/Dept. Higher Education and Workforce Development
Paula Darr, Dept. Health and Senior Services
Johanna Bisges, Dept. of Social Services
Carrie Couch, Dept. of Commerce and Insurance
Jo LeDuc, Dept. of Commerce and Insurance
Kristin Morgan, Dept. of Mental Health, Office of Autism Services
Kerri Tesreau, Dept. of Mental Health, Director’s Office
The next meeting of the Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders is Thursday, July 28 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, in person at the Department of Health and Senior Services at 930 Wildwood Dr., Jefferson City. A Webex option can be found here: https://www.mo.gov/meetings/open-meeting-details?id=15296.