DISI Profile: Aura Roblero and GALA

The 2017 IIACC Driver of Innovative Service and Implementation in ASD (DISI) Award was awarded to a group dedicated to supporting individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the Spanish-speaking community – Grupo de Apoyo para Latinos con Autismo Indianapolis or GALA. Starting with only four families in 2016, the group has since grown to regularly engaging 35 families. GALA focuses on sharing information about ASD, interventions, and resources available in Indianapolis as well as advocacy and self-advocacy.

Most importantly, GALA provides a community in which families can share their challenges and successes. We met with Aura Roblero, the leader of this advocacy group and an active IIACC member, to learn more about GALA. Continue reading “DISI Profile: Aura Roblero and GALA”


What Are Assistive Technologies?

Assistive technology (AT) device is “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities” (Technology Related Assistance to Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988). Such technologies can be “high” or “low tech” (from canes to voice recognition and speech generation devices). More information on different types of AT can be found at https://at.mo.gov/information-resources-publications/documents/Autism.pdf

AT for Communication Skills

Some individuals with ASD may be non-verbal or have difficulties understanding social cues or conversation. Speech generating devices may help such individuals. This can be a standalone device or specialized software installed on a tablet of phone.

Learn more at https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/assistive-devices-people-hearing-voice-speech-or-language-disorders

AT for Social Skills

Social skills is often a challenge for individuals with ASD. There are many applications to help individuals with ASD develop social skills that range from teaching facial expressions, to academic and social learning, to helping deal with stress and maladaptive behaviors. You can find some examples at https://informingfamilies.org/assitive-technology/

Daily Living Skills

Daily living skills, such as hygiene, organization skills, and recreational skills, are important for individuals with ASD to master on their path towards independence.

You can find some examples at https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Assistive_Technology_in_Education/Life_Skills#Software_Offering_Functional_Skill_Content

Where to Find Information on Such Devices

You can check out the following recources:

Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs: https://www.ataporg.org/

AbleData: Tools and Technologies to Enhance Life: https://abledata.acl.gov/


CRISIS? Read This

When an individual engages in negative behaviors, such as a tantrum or aggression, it is important to focus on the safety of the individual, those around them, and property.

In case of emergency, call 9-1-1!


Indiana’s Adult Abuse Hotline: Report any types of adult (18+ y.o.) abuse (e.g., neglect, battery, or exploitation) who may be incapable due to mental illness or other physical or mental incapacity to Adult Protective Services. State hotline: 1-800-992-6978. For more information or to report online: www.in.gov/fssa/da/3479.htm

Indiana’s Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: Call 1-800-800-5556 to report child abuse (e.g., physical abuse, sexual abuse) and neglect allegations. Help is available 24/7.

Suicide hotline: Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a counselor at Lifeline crisis center near you. Help is available 24/7. For more information:  www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

SAMHSA’s National Helpline (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service):  Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Help available 24/7. For more information: www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov

When to Ask for Help?

Individuals with ASD experience many challenges. However, it is important for parents and caregivers to recognize when they need to seek help:

  • Aggression, self-injury or other changes in behavior, like irritability or anxiety, are recurrent, persistent, and have strong negative impact onto those around them
  • Dangerous or unsafe behaviors that are challenging to manage or contain (e.g., elopement and wandering)
  • Threats of suicide
  • Regression in skills





Featured Presentations

Supporting Families through the LifeCourse with Julie Reynolds, DDRS

Insurance and Advocating with Michele Trivedi, The Arc of Indiana

Indiana Systems of Care: Strengthening Our Communities with Jayme Whitacker, FSSA, DMHA and Christy Gauss, IDOE

Initiatives and Guidelines

Comprehensive State Plan on Community-Based Services for Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD)

Task Force for Assessment of Services and Supports for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities published a report on existing services, identifies gaps in services and proposes services that will help make people with disabilities more independent. Read

What is the Indiana Comprehensive Plan?

Indiana’s plan to improve conditions for those with autism has been outlined in the Indiana State Comprehensive Plan for Individuals with ASD.

Each action item noted under the goals below represent the priority action within these goal areas, as determined by the IIACC and workgroups. Other action items are also being addressed (see full Plan) but the priority areas enable a systematic and progressive approach towards stated action items.

Goals from the State Plan

Goal 1: HANDS in Autism(R) facilitates and coordinates the Indiana Interagency Autism Coordinating Council, as well as manages data collection and activities. HANDS reports on the status of services reflected in the Comprehensive State Plan.

Goal 2: To create the opportunity for all individuals with ASD and families to be supported by healthcare professionals who will listen and provide input. Medical professionals will develop a plan to address concerns with attention to access and coordinating care during services.

Priority Action : Identify committees and boards related to ASD as well as SOC and medical home initiatives that exhibit representation of leaders in ASD

Goal 3: To ensure service providers and families are knowledgeable of universal early screening, as well as the signs to identify ASD. Diagnosis would follow with a plan to refer individuals to coordinated service systems.

Priority Action: Identify and develop list of options available for the awareness/training of  med students, residents, physicians in early screening and identification in general and specifically with regards to family practitioners, nurse practitioners and physician assistants

Goal 4: For individuals with ASD to have access to integrated health, mental health, education and social services provided by qualified providers throughout their lives.

Priority Action: Develop a comprehensive list and set of annotated data of waiver providers, case managers, and other providers with info about expertise and payment structures

Goal 5: To ensure families and providers understand what is needed for the planning of successful transitions.

Priority Action: Identify and make available a standard set of information to disseminate across families, medical & school personnel, and individuals (middle to HS) to improve understanding about the transition  process.

Goal 6: To identify standards for accessible and affordable private and public insurance coverage for the entire life of an individual with ASD, as well as other mental health conditions.

Priority Action: Propose standard promulgated for oversight and enforcement of appropriate implementation of clinical services to IN policy makers and with suggested enforcement by legal/regulatory requirements.

Goal 7: This relates to the justice system and public safety, however, this group was not represented to finalize the goal and priorities for this workgroup. This will be updated once the priority is decided.

Priority Action: Identifying and recording standard topics/formats needed for training of first responders.

DISI Award

“Without innovation, we cannot advance” 
~ Ahmed Mohamed

About DISI

Driver of Innovative Service and Implementation (DISI) is awarded to an agency, organization, or initiative that drives the implementation of innovative programs/ services in the field of ASD and other developmental disabilities that relate to at least one goal of the Indiana Comprehensive State Plan for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.


Nominate an organization for the IIACC’s next DISI (Driver of Innovative Service and Implementation) Award! Please take a few minutes to identify an agency, group, or program that:

  • Engages community partners to discuss and realize innovative ideas in the field of ASD
  • Exemplifies the characteristics of the IIACC’s mission to facilitate the efficient and effective exchange of information on ASD-related activities
  • Drives the implementation of services and programming that align with the goals outlined in the Indiana Comprehensive State Plan

Complete the nomination application!

DISI Winners:

Winter 2016 Winner: Erskine Green Training Institute (EGTI)

We are proud to congratulate the Erskine Green Training Institute (EGTI) as the recipient of the Indiana Interagency Autism Coordinating Council’s first Driver of Innovative Service and Implementation (DISI) award! EGTI offers comprehensive vocational training curricula that provide individuals with disabilities valuable job skills, preparing them for employment in the hospitality, health care, and food service industries.

Participants in EGTI’s training programs receive instruction on topics related to health and wellness, life skills, and job-specific subjects before participating in hands-on job shadowing opportunities. In addition, EGTI provides students with mentors and tutors to enrich their experience at the Training Institute. EGTI’s combination of training and on-site internship programming seeks to lower the 82% unemployment rate among disabled individuals, including those with ASD and other disorders, and the program’s partnerships with employers in the City of Muncie exemplify the types of community-based collaborations that fuel the mission of the IIACC. Visit the Erskine Green Training Institute’s website (https://www.erskinegreeninstitute.org/) to learn more or to apply for admission.

Spring 2017 Winner: One Community, One Family (OCOF)

We are proud to congratulate One Community, One Family (OCOF) as the recipient of this quarter’s Driver of Innovative Service and Implementation (DISI) award! OCOF is a community partnership that works to address the emotional and behavioral health needs of children and youth across southeastern Indiana.

Following an evidence-based System of Care approach, OCOF’s services are family-driven, youth-guided, community-based, culturally responsive, and trauma-informed.  The partnership connects mental health providers, educators, child welfare and social service agencies, juvenile justice professionals, and community coalitions with youth and families in the area to meet the needs of children and help them succeed at home, in school, and as part of their communities.

One Community, One Family offers a number of resources, training opportunities, and programming to improve and expand the services available to the populations they serve. OCOF’s offerings include Parent Coaching workshops designed to help parents and caregivers address children’s social, emotional, and behavior needs, multi-day trainings to educate providers on caring for families affected by trauma, and Parent Cafés that promote self-reflection and peer-to-peer learning as a means to support and engage families within communities.

Though OCOF is not an ASD-specific initiative, its services align with multiple goals of the Indiana Comprehensive State Plan.  OCOF’s focus on connecting children and families with the appropriate providers, community groups, and interagency resources exemplifies the objective of Goal Two (Family and Professional Partnerships), while its support of increased early developmental screening in child care centers in rural areas across Southeast Indiana aligns with Goals Three (Early and Continuous Development and Medical Screening for ASD Responses) and Four (Access to All Needed ASD Health, Mental Health, Education, and Social Services) of the Comprehensive State Plan.  For more information about One Community, One Family, visit http://www.onecommunityonefamily.org.