New UTHealth survey to address statewide gaps in autism care and resources

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HOUSTON – (June 3, 2014) – Autism once again took center stage across the nation when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released new figures indicating that 1 in 68 U.S. children has an autism spectrum disorder.

To address statewide gaps in autism care and resources, Pauline A. Filipek, M.D., director of The Autism Center at the Children’s Learning Institute at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), is inviting Texas residents to participate in a short survey regarding the needs of young Texans with an autism spectrum disorder.

The survey, called Act Early Texas!, is anonymous, confidential and can be accessed by visiting www.actearlytexas.org.  It is available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese and takes only about 15 minutes to complete. The survey is open through July 31, 2014.

As part of a State Planning Grant funded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, UTHealth is working with stakeholders to find out about educational and health care needs in order to develop a statewide plan to address gaps in services. Filipek, who is director of the State Planning Grant, is asking participants to complete this survey regarding their experiences as a parent, advocate and/or individual with an autism spectrum disorder.

Filipek says Texas is well above the national average in the age of diagnosis of children with autism, missing the window of opportunity for early interventions

“We believe that the positive outcomes of an accurate diagnosis far outweigh the negative effects, and families appreciate being informed as early as possible,” says Filipek, who is the Texas Ambassador for the CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.”

Research has shown that there are many advantages of early diagnosis, including earlier educational planning and treatment, provision for family supports and education, reduction of family stress and anguish and delivery of appropriate medical care to the child. “When children are screened and diagnosed at a young age, early interventions are more likely to lead to better outcomes — helping children be more prepared for success in school and life,” Filipek says.

For questions or more information about this survey, contact Amanda Marlow Swift, program manager, at 713-500-3849 or Amanda.Marlow@uth.tmc.edu

Andy Heger 
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030