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MN UCEDD Partners with MN DHS to Produce Multi-Cultural Films on Autism

The Institute on Community Integration (ICI) at the University of Minnesota (MN UCEDD), in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), has produced, "On the Autism Spectrum: Families Find Help and Hope," a series of five short films that raise awareness and understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and of services available to Minnesota families within the African American, Hmong, Latino, Native American, and Somali communities. The new films were created for and are distributed by DHS to provide support, encouragement, and direction for families in diverse communities who experience ASD, inspiring them to use available resources. Each 15-20 minute film features interviews with parents, advocates, medical professionals, educators, and community leaders speaking in the language of the target community with subtitles in English.

"Unfortunately, some families still experience stigma around disabilities and find it difficult to talk openly and seek needed support," says ICI's Jerry Smith, director of the films. "As families hear from others in their communities experiencing the same issues, and from health professionals and educators offering guidance and direction, we hope more people will act early and take advantage of the services available throughout Minnesota."

"DHS wants to ensure that families and others are aware of the Early Intensive Developmental and Behavioral Intervention [EIDBI] benefit available to Minnesota children and youth with ASD or related conditions," says Alex Bartolic, director of DHS' Disability Services Division. "It's critical to identify the signs and symptoms of ASD and developmental delays early to positively alter the developmental trajectory of children with ASD at a young age. We were pleased to partner with ICI to produce these excellent videos, which are designed to encourage families from ethnic communities to pursue treatment for their children by showing them members of their communities who have been helped with autism services, including EIDBI."

ICI's work on the films is part of its Minnesota DHS Systems Change and Capacity Building Through Research, Training, and Technical Assistance Projects, a partnership of DHS and ICI's Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC-CL) that began in 2012. That collaboration includes research, training and technical assistance activities that enhance Minnesota's capacity to support community living for individuals with disabilities and/or mental illness, including early intervention for children with ASD.

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