Georgia Autism Assessment Collaborative Cohorts Trained by EAC

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    The Georgia Autism Assessment Collaborative (GAAC) is a project funded by the Georgia Department of Public Health and implemented by the Emory Autism Center (EAC), with cooperation from the Georgia Psychological Association.  The purpose of the GAAC is for invested professionals to network and learn together to deepen the capacity for early diagnostic assessment of Georgia’s young children under the age of three suspected of having an ASD.

    twoOver a two-year period from 2015-17, there have been four GAAC cohorts established and trained by the Emory Autism Center, representing 51 professionals in the 18 Public Health Districts throughout Georgia. Applications were requested from licensed child psychologists in Georgia interested in increasing their expertise in assessment of young children suspected of having an ASD. Selection of GAAC members was made based on an individual applicant meeting qualifications, as well as enhancing geographic distribution for the group.

    Through several large group, in-district and webinar sessions since February 2015, the GAAC has acted as an ongoing learning collaborative, successfully training 51 licensed psychologists in early assessment.  Most recently, five specialty clinics were initiated, one in each public health region around the state to expand the commitment to providing quality, early diagnostic assessment in Georgia, with members of this cohort taking lead roles in each of them.

    Sixteen members of the group participated in an early diagnosis training session at EAC on Thursday, January 25, and those members involved in the specialty clinics attended a kick-off meeting on Friday, January 26. 

    Early intervention can make a difference in helping a child learn important skills, while changing developmental outcomes. The trainings carried out over the past two years have improved early identification and linkage to early intervention. It is essential for Georgia to maintain this momentum to increase the capacity of well-qualified secondary and tertiary professionals who can help families with the assessment and diagnosis of their young child suspected of having ASD. Having a central location in each district will serve an informational and organizational purpose, and bring Georgia closer to the goal of providing timely, accurate early diagnosis to all children under the age of three who exhibit signs of ASD.

    To obtain a referral to a GAAC early identification professional, please contact the Emory Autism Center at 404-727-8350.  Ask for Dr. Michael Morrier for toddlers and children (ages 0-8) or Dr. Opal Ousley for pre-teens, teens and adults (9+ years).