JoAnne Hoesel, Bismarck, letter: N.D. supports people with autism disordersThe North Dakota Department of Human Services has been serving children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) for nearly two decades.
By: JoAnne Hoesel,
BISMARCK — I am writing in response to a Herald letter about autism services for children (“Don’t waste any more children,” Page A4, June 12).
The North Dakota Department of Human Services has been serving children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) for nearly two decades.
More than 1,080 children and adults with ASD received services at our eight human service centers through vocational rehabilitation, mental health services and services for people with developmental disabilities. Individuals with ASD also are served at the North Dakota Developmental Center and the North Dakota State Hospital.
Our regional centers serve individuals with ASD who also have a mental health or substance use disorder. They do not have the capacity to provide specialized ASD-specific treatments.
In 2010, the department implemented an ASD waiver that allows for new services and supports. The waiver serves children from birth through age 4 and includes early intervention coordination, in-home supports, equipment and supplies and environmental modifications.
The department also pays for a statewide infant development program for families of infants and toddlers at-risk for developmental delays.
The Autism Spectrum Disorder Task Force created by the 2009 Legislature has met with stakeholders and researched solutions. At the request of the Legislature, I presented the task force’s recommendations at the Interim Human Services Committee last month.
In summary, services are being provided to people with ASD and their families. Ongoing collaboration and solution-focused dialogue is important and appreciated. There is work that needs to be done, and the department is committed to be a part of the solution.
Hoesel is director of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Division of the North Dakota Department of Human Services and chairperson of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Task Force.