The Autism Family Navigator
Autism is a growing public health challenge in Canada and internationally. Despite major scientific advances in autism research and improvements in practice, families still experience serious delays and complications in diagnosis and access to care. Moreover, community capacity, e.g., treatment and support programs, remains very limited relative to the needs of those affected. In turn, this situation increases the burden of suffering on families and ultimately the long-term costs to health systems and society. It takes a whole community to improve this situation: Our partnership among researchers, families, health systems, and industry can provide effective solutions to address these grand challenges. We are working together to develop The Autism Family Navigator program. A navigator is a person, working within a care team who support families affected by autism in making difficult and time-sensitive decisions and work with them to identify and remove barriers they experience in accessing community services. By exposing the true burden on families, the systems supporting them, and their community, our long-term hope is to transform health systems and policy through such community-based solutions.