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The Health Resources Services Administration has awarded a new grant, Navigating Pathways for Coordinated Care for Children with ASD/DD, to Elizabeth Crais, PhD, and Rebecca Pretzel, PhD.

Elizabeth "Betsy" Crais, PhD
Elizabeth “Betsy” Crais, PhD

After a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder or developmental disability, studies have shown that many families do not know where to seek help, nor do they have clear guidelines of their options. This can often lead families to feeling overwhelmed. The Navigating Pathways for Coordinated Care for Children with ASD/DD grant will provide almost $1,500,000 for four years to address these issues by enhancing family navigation services in North Carolina and providing training on ASD/DD for providers.

Crais is a professor in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences. Pretzel is the assistant director of Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities. Crais and Pretzel will work with partners from the Autism Society of North Carolina, the UNC School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, the Department of Allied Health Sciences and Doanne Ward-Williams, a bilingual speech-language pathologist.

The interdisciplinary team will work closely with pediatricians, their practice-based referral personnel and families of the identified children to build knowledge, skills and self-efficacy around community resources. The initial targets will be young children and families in medically underserved areas of the state. The ultimate goal is to build coordinated systems of navigation and care for the children and families, while encouraging families to help guide the process.

Researchers will also work with state leaders of agencies and organizations that provide service coordination across the state to adopt a navigation framework for North Carolina. They will guide representative trainers in each agency who will prepare their work force to use the new framework.

Contact Crais for more information about this project.