Arkansas Autism Program Receives $2.17 Million in Federal Funding

By Ben Boulden

The Arkansas monitoring program tracks the number and characteristics of 8-year-olds with autism spectrum disorder and/or intellectual disability. The new funding will enable the monitoring program to continue that work while also tracking 4- and 16-year-olds.

“In this grant competition, we were one of only two new sites nationwide chosen to track 16-year-olds, an expansion to three from only one site before,” said Maya Lopez, M.D., the program’s principal investigator and an associate professor in the UAMS College of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics. “We deeply appreciate this funding renewal because it means we can continue gathering data to promote developmental screening in health and educational services and to connect these children with appropriate services.”

Although previous grant cycles funded statewide monitoring, this new period focuses on central Arkansas. The program includes investigators with UAMS and operates in collaboration with the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Department of Education.

Since 2000, the ADDM network has conducted autism spectrum disorder surveillance among 8-year-old children. This year ADDM has initiated the monitoring of 16 year-olds to help inform public health strategies for adolescents with autism. There are now 11 monitoring sites in different regions nationwide.

Tracking 16-year-old adolescents with autism can also provide valuable information on transition planning in special education services and after the high school years. Sites will analyze the data to better understand increases over time in the number of children identified with autism and carry out education and outreach activities in their local communities.

In this new funding cycle, UAMS received $1.57 million for four years of monitoring 4- and 8-year-olds, and $600,000 in a supplemental grant for the same period for monitoring 16-year-olds.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; northwest Arkansas regional campus; statewide network of regional centers; and six institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.