In 2015, staff from two autism and IDD providers and advocates, Brighton Center and Autism Treatment Center, approached the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation to ask for assistance to address the rising number of children diagnosed with autism and the gaps in the current system of care for the autism population. In 2016, the Foundation and its stakeholders formally established Autism Lifeline Links through an initiative funded by the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation.
Guided by a steering committee comprised of community leaders, Autism Lifeline Links committed to cooperation, collaboration and communication to provide individuals living with autism streamlined solutions to address needs and simplify access to services and support from diagnosis throughout life. Autism Lifeline worked with community agencies providing care coordination, diagnostic services, behavioral support and therapy services, education and support groups, financial assistance for medical expenses and basic needs, respite care, registration with long-term support programs, and much more.
In 2021, The Kronkosky Charitable Foundation and Texas A&M University - San Antonio entered into an agreement to transition Autism Lifeline Links to the College of Education and Human Development. Texas A&M University - San Antonio has a multi-phased plan to create an Autism Institute that will focus on a lifespan approach for people with autism that includes early identification of children with autism, primary and secondary education, family and self-advocate advocacy, and therapeutic interventions to improve the quality of life for people with autism and those who care for them.
Working collectively, Autism Lifeline Links:
Deployed a HIPAA compliant, cloud-based platform to coordinate services and electronic referrals among 14 agencies. This provides a single point of entry into a coordinated system of services and care, with the assistance of a care coordinator who assesses needs and helps people connect with providers and resources. The platform allows providers to collaborate on a level previously unrealized in the autism sector. Data from providers also allows members to assess barriers to care and gaps in autism services and pursue solutions.
Established four committees consisting of over 100 autism and IDD stakeholders that meet monthly to dig deeper into existing systems and challenges, create alignment across the community, and identify solutions.
Commissioned two studies: Capital Healthcare (2016) to assess the prevalence of autism, available practitioners for the population, and cost of care in the community; and Community Information Now (CI: Now) (2019) to assess and quantify the number of adults with autism and IDD and available services, which was the first known study of its kind in the United States. These studies indicate there are more than 30,000 people living with autism/IDD in the San Antonio region, including more than 21,000 adults.
- Coordinated care for over 3,400 members with over 76,000 activities. The top 3 needs identified are: case management/care coordination; parent and caregiver education; and access to care, support, transportation and legal services. This reflects over 9,100 electronic referrals between partners.
- During the 85th and 86th Texas Legislative Session, ALL partners aligned with local and state stakeholders to collaboratively pass legislation to ensure licensure of Texas practitioners delivering interventions for special populations and to include these practices in the Medicaid Service Array- ensuring our most vulnerable Texans have equal access to treatment/interventions to improve success and quality of life.
- During the 87th session period, ALL partners teamed up with Texas Department of Human Service - Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) to modify the Texas Administrative Code (TAC) to inform parents of children more formally with IDD to have access to future service.