A statewide effort to improve screening, diagnosis and assessment of persons suspected of having an autistic spectrum disorder. Led by the California Department of Developmental Services, regional centers, interested clinicians and educators, and parents of children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD).


Since 1995, the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) has documented a steady increase in the number of individuals diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). Although autism has been recognized for more than fifty years, the recent increase in the number of children diagnosed with this condition has escalated concern among parents and professionals.

As a result, a statewide effort has begun to improve screening, diagnosis, and assessment of persons suspected of having an ASD. With funding from DDS, Valley Mountain Regional Center (VMRC) and the Center for Health Improvement (CHI) are supporting the development of the California ASD Collaborative. The collaborative is targeted at all interested persons who provide services for persons suspected of having an ASD—primary care providers, schools, mental health providers, academic medical centers and others that partner with regional centers to provide services for persons with this disorder. These interested persons and organizations come together into “learning teams” coordinated by regional centers throughout California. Each team commits to working to meet the strategic goals and objectives of the collaborative, and to measure and report data that indicate whether or not the goals are being met.

Resources and Reference Documents

Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Best Practice Guidelines for Screening, Diagnosis and Assessment, is the product of nearly a year's work by experts in the field of autistic spectrum disorders. Based on validated scientific evidence, clinical experience and clinical judgment, the Guidelines provides professionals, policymakers, parents and other stakeholders with detailed "best practice" recommendations and rationale for screening, evaluating and assessing individuals suspected of having autistic spectrum disorders. The result of several concurrent events-most recently, a Wellness Initiative grant requested by the principal co-authors of the guidelines and a mandate by the California state legislature-the publication represents state-of-the art practice in the field and, as directed by Assembly Bill 430 sections 25 and 26, provides standards for diagnostic tools and methods to "ensure consistency and accuracy of diagnosis of autism disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders throughout California."

Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Best Practices for Inter-Organizational Collaboration

  • Click here to access the 2008 Best Practices for Inter-Organizational Collaboration: A How-To Manual for Organizations Working to Integrate Services for Persons with ASD and their Families document

Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Best Practices Guidelines for Screening, Diagnosis & Assessment

  • Click here to access the 2002 ASD: Best Practices Guidelines for Screening, Diagnosis & Assessment document

Quick Reference Guide: Best Practice Guidelines for Screening, Diagnosis and Assessment

  • Click here to access the 2002 ASD Quick Reference Guide: Best Practices Guidelines for Screening, Diagnosis & Assessment document

New Data on ASD

DDS has recently released the 2003 Autism Report: Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Changes in the California Caseload, An Update: 1999 through 2002. This report is an update of the 1999 Autism Report.

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