World Autism Awareness Day, observed on April 2, 2022, is a recognition of the countless ways people with autism contribute to our families, our communities, our nation, and our world. One of the many goals of World Autism Awareness Day is to recommit ourselves to providing people with autism and their families with the support and quality health care they need.
IHS is committed to supporting individuals with autism and we are dedicated to improving our efforts. IHS is a proud member of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee , a federal advisory committee that coordinates federal efforts and provides advice to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on issues related to autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
In 2021, IHS updated the Purchased/Referred Care policy to include applied behavior analysis therapy, which is a common therapy for children with ASD. This allows individual IHS sites to potentially cover the cost of this therapy for patients and families who are referred for this service.
Additionally, the IHS Indian Children’s Program has worked to equip health care providers working in the IHS, tribal, and urban Indian health system with the training and education needed to provide excellent care for American Indian and Alaska Native youth with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
In recent years, the Indian Children’s Program has provided numerous trainings on autism. Training topics have included screening and diagnosis, ASD and co-occurring mental health conditions, and supporting families of children with neurodevelopmental disorders during COVID-19. You can find past recordings of these trainings on the Indian Children’s Program Website.
On April 1 from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm MT, IHS will be hosting a special workshop in recognition of World Autism Awareness Day entitled "Exploring Mindfulness and Dance Movement Therapy for Children with ASD." This workshop will provide health care providers, family members, and other interested participants with information on how dance movement therapy and mindfulness interventions can be treatment approaches for children with ASD. We hope this workshop will be a fun, interactive experience for families and health care providers to learn and practice specific mindfulness and dance movement therapy techniques, thereby increasing their therapeutic skill set with children with ASD to create accepting and caring home and health care environments.