In 2001, parents, behavioral health experts, psychiatrists, psychologists and public health officials began to express concerns regarding the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) among children. Over the next few years, they presented their concerns and recommendations to various legislators and others in state government. In 2003 the Illinois General Assembly responded by passing Public Act 93-0395 establishing The Autism Program of Illinois (TAP). At that time, the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 1 in 500 children might have ASD. Because of its expertise in the field, The Hope Institute for Children and Families was designated as the convening partner. TAP regional training centers were established at Hope in Springfield, as well as at the University of Chicago and Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. The goal was to increase community awareness of ASD and to increase family access to early diagnosis and appropriate intervention by providing training to educators, Early Intervention professionals and medical providers. In addition, TAP facilitated several research projects to evaluate different treatment interventions for effectiveness.
It became clear that the impact of autism was greater than previously realized, and in 2007 the Illinois Legislature expanded TAP from a training and research program to a statewide network that also provided direct services to children with ASD and their families. The timing of the Legislature’s action in 2007 was fortuitous. In 2008, the CDC revised their estimate of the prevalence of autism, and reported that 1 in 150 children were likely to have ASD. The latest findings of the CDC, published in 2014, now indicate that as many as 1 in 68 children could have ASD, affecting more children than cancer and diabetes combined. The Autism Program of Illinois Service Network today consists of 17 partners and 19 locations throughout the state, including four public universities and eight community agencies. You can find the TAP Center closest to you here.
The Autism Program of Illinois Service Network serves and supports persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families through a coordinated network of providers, parents, and university programs while developing, utilizing, and sharing best and promising practices.