The Autism Program of Illinois (TAP) Service Network is the largest statewide autism resource and services network in the country. A collaboration of four universities and 13 nonprofit agencies operate 19 centers across the state to provide services to children, families, educators, health care providers, day care centers and first responders.
The Need is Huge
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in every 68 school age children in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorder. This represents a significant increase from even a few years ago, when the rate was 1 in 150 children. In Illinois, that means 45, 975 children 18 and under have some form of autism.
What TAP Does – What Will be Eliminated
TAP provides statewide services. In fiscal year 2014, TAP served residents of each of Illinois’ 102 counties. While TAP services vary from center to center, here is a summary of key services that will be eliminated if TAP does not receive continued funding.
Screening and Diagnostic Services: Each year, TAP partners provide hundreds of screenings and full diagnostic procedures. The earlier these services can be provided, the better the chance for early intervention and a positive outcome. Without TAP, hundreds of children will face significant delays in diagnosis and delays in access to the critical evidence-based services like ABA therapy, which have proven so helpful to children with autism.
Training for Parents and Professionals: Each year, TAP centers train thousands of parents, educators, health care professionals, day care providers and first responders. Each professional trained touches the lives of at least ten children and families, so the multiplier effect is great.
Direct Services to Children with Autism: Services such as social skills groups, ABA therapy, sibling groups and other direct services help children with autism better relate to their families, their peers, and the world around them. These critical services are not covered by most private insurance or Medicaid. Their elimination would be a devastating blow to thousands of Illinois families.
Leveraging Other Grant Funds: The State of Illinois’ relatively small investment in the TAP Network has been leveraged by TAP partners to obtain millions of dollars in additional grant funding. That funding would not have been possible without state funding, and much of it will be in jeopardy if TAP is no longer funded.