Mon Apr 16 2018
Jennifer Hall-Lande trains public health workers in Saint Paul, Minnesota in early 2018.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Various ICI projects (e.g., Minnesota Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network -- or MN-ADDM), centers (e.g., Research and Training Center on Community Living  -- or RTC-CL), and trainees (e.g., MNLEND Fellows from the Minnesota Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities Program), work on issues related to the needs of children, youth, and adults with autism. Following are some examples of those efforts taking place this month: 

  • ICI's MN-ADDM project is part of the CDC national network that is increasing knowledge about the population of children with ASD and other developmental disabilities in the U.S., comparing how common ASD is in different parts of the country, and understanding the impact of ASD and related conditions in American communities. Project co-investigator Jennifer Hall-Lande (pictured, standing), who the CDC also named Minnesota's Act Early State Ambassador for 2016-2018, says, "We are currently preparing for the April 26 release of our MN-ADDM ASD prevalence estimates, which will provide valuable information in Minnesota and nationally."

  • Derjaun (DJ) Strons, a MNLEND Fellow who is pursuing his Master's degree in Social Work at the University of Minnesota, joined with the Autism Society of Minnesota (AuSM) to provide social supports to individuals with autism for his MNLEND project. He works alongside AuSM program specialists who teach social skills to children, teens, and young adults on the spectrum. Every Sunday in April, Strons supports AuSM's "On the Town" social skills groups by taking people with autism out to places like New Hope Bowling and Skyzone. He is also helping to create a social skills activity book for group facilitators.

  • ICI staff and MNLEND Fellows will present at the 23rd Annual Minnesota Autism Conference on April 25-28. Organized by AuSM, the conference will take place in St. Louis Park. Rebekah Huddock, who is MNLEND faculty and a MNLEND alumnus, will co-present, "Coming Soon! AMP: Developing a One-to-One Mentoring Program for Youth on the Spectrum." MNLEND alumna Mariam Egal and current MNLEND Fellow Beth Dierker are among the presenters of, "Parent Support: The Power of Connection." MNLEND Fellow Pang Chaxiong and RTC-CL's Amy Gunty will present, "Promoting Resilience in Families of Children with Autism." Jody Van Ness and Mark Olson from RTC-CL will present, "Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Find Me a Career."