The Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council (AIACC) was charged with developing a statewide system of care for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families back in 2009. The same year that charge was given, the Regional Autism Network (RAN) was legislated to provide professional training programs, technical assistance and consultation, individual and family assistance, and public education programs, but it was not funded until last year.
“We are thrilled with the legislative funding of the RAN through the Alabama Department of Mental Health and the AIACC, and believe it will be a key component to developing a system of care for those with ASD,” said Anna McConnell, State Autism Coordinator.
Alabama’s RAN is staffed by experts in the field of ASD and is housed at three (soon to be five) universities. Each RAN strives to connect people with ASD, their families, educators, and service providers to the information and/or services that best meet their needs. The participating universities are: Auburn University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and University of South Alabama, with University of Alabama and University of Alabama in Huntsville to come on board October 2017, completing statewide coverage.
This year has been exciting, not just in the funding of RAN, but also in the expanded insurance coverage for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, passed by the Alabama Legislature. The passage of HB284 is critical in allowing access to life-changing services. Lack of availability or accessibility to services has been a persistent barrier in Alabama. With the passage of HB284 and the creation of the Regional Autism Networks, Alabamians will have improved access to needed therapies, expanded training opportunities, support to those working with people with ASD, and connection to the increasing list of resources.
To learn more, contact Dr. Doris Hill, who directs the RAN at Auburn University, at firstname.lastname@example.org.