Seven mountains peaks with the words Ten Year Strategic Plan, Mental Health Screenings, Infrastructure, Early Intervention, Education, Community, Medical Health Screenings.


The Collaborative for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Options 

What is Colorado CANDO?

The Collaborative for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Options is an ad-hoc committee of the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council. Colorado CANDO was created to support the Ten-Year Strategic Plan for individuals with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities.

What is the Ten Year Strategic Plan?

In 2008, the Colorado General Assembly created the Colorado Autism Commission (SB08-163) to obtain additional information on people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in the State. The Colorado General Assembly charged the Commission with the preparation of a Ten-Year Strategic Plan for the State of Colorado.

The resulting Ten-Year Strategic Plan is an ambitious venture to expand the resources, services, and supports available to Colorado citizens with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and all neurodevelopmental disabilities.

In 2008, Governor Bill Ritter signed Senate Bill 163 into law, establishing a 24-member Colorado Autism Commission that examined gaps in services and devise a 10-Year state strategy. The Colorado Autism Commission completed their report in the fall of 2009 and below is the report from the Commission.

Colorado Autism Commission Executive Summary
Colorado Autism Commission Report
Colorado Autism Commission Report - Appendix
Colorado Autism Commission Report with Appendix


The Colorado Autism Commission and CANDO identified the scarcity of appropriate services for children, youth and adults with these co-occurring needs as one of the most critical service issues in Colorado.

Problems: Numerous national reports have examined the problems associated with inadequate and/or poor quality mental health services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Recommendations almost always center on the need for cross-system collaboration between mental health service providers, developmental disability service systems, and acute health care providers but problems persist. Excessive use of emergency services and psychiatric hospitals (when access to same is available) are only two of the unfortunate results of an uncoordinated system. The toll on individuals, their families and the community can be tragic.  

What is needed: A program that strengthens efficiencies and service outcomes for people with intellectual/developmental disabilities with co-occurring mental health conditions and/or behavioral health needs related to their disability. Colorado advocates and service providers can attest to the need for a program designed to provide seamless linkages among the many elements of community mental health care to avert crises and assure access, appropriateness, and accountability. An effective system would optimize independence, treatment, and community living for individuals with I/DD and behavioral health needs. 

What we're doing to address the problems: The GAP Analysis survey was designed to help us identify the areas most in need of streamlining and improvement in service coordination for individuals with a dual diagnosis. In the Fall of 2013, eleven community meetings took place at Community Centered Boards across the state to gain insight to issues and successes in regional service coordination.

Next steps: The results from the surveys and community meetings were used to form recommendations that were presented in a report to the CDHS‐DDD to the General Assembly.  This document is critical to lay the groundwork for building a responsive system for coordinated services, crisis prevention, management, and stabilization for people with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Final Report: Analysis of Access to Mental Health Services for Individuals who have Dual Diagnosis of I/DD and Mental and/or Behavioral Health Disorders (11/2014)

Please see the GAP Analysis Project page for more information.


Principal Investigator, John Miles 

Abstract of Final Report

Final Report of CASCADE

Areas addressed by Project CASCADE were:

  1. To expand partnerships between professionals and families of children and youth with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities (ASD/DD).
  2. Provide ASD/DD training, webinars and print information to more parents and professionals to foster partnerships. Bridge gaps between the medical and educational systems.
  3. Improve access to a medical home. Integrate ASD/DD information into the Colorado Medical Home Initiative and community trainings for the medical home model.
  4. Increase access to adequate health insurance and financing Support implementation of Colorado law for private insurance coverage of ASD services. 
  5. Monitor implementation in a Consumer Registry, report findings, work to resolve emerging issues.
  6. Conduct outreach and provide information to families of children with ASD/DD and providers on evidence-based treatment options, implication of state and Federal laws for consumers.
  7. Increase early and continuous screening in the medical home Support timely use of developmental/ASD screening and assessment tools.
  8. Integrate into statewide electronic data systems screening data and data from primary, specialty/sub-specialty practices, train providers in screening and sharing results with families, support family understanding of screening results.
  9. Improve organization of community services for easy use by families.
  10. Develop and disseminate Care Coordination Plan and Toolkit; examine use.
  11. Improve transition to all aspects of adult health care, work, and independence. 
  12. Create parent/youth awareness of transition issues and adult healthcare systems. 
  13. Assist providers to support transition, work with Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council ad hoc committee on transition in spheres of adult life.

Family/ Individual Advocacy

Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC)
A statewide organization that advocates Social Justice for people with all types of disabilities.

This organization informs and empowers low-income, culturally and linguistically diverse families as advocates for their children with disabilities, ages birth - 26 to achieve meaningful participation in their schools and communities.

El Grupo Vida
Es un grupo de padres hispanos formado para dar apoyo mutuo a los padres que tienen hijos con necesidades especiales.

The Arc of Colorado
The Arc has eleven local chapters each serving designated geographic areas. Local chapters provide individual advocacy services for children and adults with intellectual developmental disabilities who live in their service areas. They also provide information and referral services, public policy support, community education and more.

The Autism Society of Colorado (ASC)
ASC seeks to improve the lives of all those affected by autism.  ASC accomplishes this through three program areas of community connections, education, and public policy.  ASC strives to advocate, inform and share the journey with all Coloradans.

Medical/ Insurance Advocacy

Autism Speaks
This organization works in state capitals, Congress and the courts for autism insurance reform that maximizes coverage for evidence-based treatments including behavioral health treatments.

Family Voices Colorado
This organization's focus is to Improves access to and quality of health care for children and youth with special health care needs. They work with families, health care and other service providers, and community professionals in the health care and disability fields.

Educational Advocacy

The Arc of Colorado
The Arc has eleven local chapters each serving designated geographic areas. Local chapters provide individual advocacy services for children and adults with intellectual developmental disabilities who live in their service areas. They also provide information and referral services, public policy support, community education and more.

Legal Advocacy

Disability Law Colorado
The Legal Center protects and promotes the rights of people with disabilities and older people in Colorado through direct legal representation, advocacy, education and legislative analysis.

Colorado Center on Law and Policy 
This organization provides: research and independent legal and policy analysis; education and civic engagement with diverse communities; advocacy on behalf of lower-income Coloradans; and litigation and legal action for systemic change.

Colorado Legal Resources 
Colorado Revised Statutes are made available for public use by the Committee on Legal Services of the Colorado General Assembly through a contractual arrangement with the LexisNexis Group which prepares and maintains this website.

Assistive Technology Resources

Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering (CITE)
Located at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, CITE envisions a world where all persons with cognitive, sensory, and/or physical disabilities are engaged in life at home, school, work  and play, without barriers and without boundaries.

Watch Our Words (WOW)
An organization for users of Facilitated Communication and their friends in Colorado.

DynaVox Mayer-Johnson
The leading provider of speech generating devices and symbol-adapted special education software used to assist individuals in overcoming their speech, language and learning challenges. These solutions are designed to help individuals who have complex communication and learning needs participate in the home, classroom and community.

Diagnostic Evaluations and Screening

The difference between a screening and diagnostic evaluation is that a screening can be conducted by your pediatrician, while the diagnostic evaluation needs to be administered by someone licensed to perform the ADOS test, like a psychologist.  These evaluations include the medical or behavioral diagnosis.  For education evaluations, please contact your local school district. 

ABCD Referral Resources
This quick reference sheet is a guide for primary care providers to follow when referring and helping families access healthcare and special education/early intervention services.

Assuring Better Child Health and Development (ABCD) Project
Works with families, pediatric health care providers, community members and child care providers to help them identify as many children who may have potential developmental delays as early as possible. ABCD also focuses on ensuring that once children with potential delays are identified, they are successfully connected with the services and resources they need (and are entitled to) as soon as possible.

Care Coordination Resource Guide
This guide is intended to inform (1) Families/consumers to understand values and qualities behind care coordination, as well as provide an educational and advocacy tool when accessing and managing care coordination services, (2) Care Coordinators and Providers may use this document as a foundation to maximize healthcare outcomes and use resources efficiently when coordinating care, and (3) Systems-level professionals may use this document to make decisions about how to coordinate care in a way that minimizes their financial risks and maximizes the care that families receive.

Children's Hospital Colorado
Mission is to improve the health of children through the provision of high-quality coordinated programs of patient care, education, research and advocacy.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 
Is committed to continuing to provide essential data on ASDs, search for risk factors and causes, and develop resources that help identify children with ASDs as early as possible.
CDC- Learn the Signs, Act Early
CDC- Aprenda Los Signos

Early and Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment
Helps families find out early about health care problems and get treatment for medical, dental, vision, mental health and developmental problems.

JFK Partners
Has collaborative relationships with numerous organizations that are a part of Colorado's developmental disability and special health care needs communities.

Colorado Community Centered Boards
Provides resources and case management for individuals, families, nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

Employment Services

Please note that employment agencies may require a referral from your local DVR office.

Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR)
DVR provides job search and development services for people with documented disabilities to help secure and maintain employment. Employment is the key issue addressed by vocational rehabilitation but DVR also refers client for independent living support. Educational needs related to employment are secondary. Youth in special education can be enrolled in vocational rehabilitation before they graduate from high school.

Colorado Office of Employment First

Bayaud Enterprises
Clients must be referred by DVR or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). 

Denver Office of Economic Development - Youth Services
Requirements vary according to the program. Usually income based and requires student have a barrier to employment such as lack of basic skills, a documented disability or teen parent. Agencies contract with the Office of Economic Development to provide youth development services.

Easter Seals, Employment Services
A program that assists individuals with disabilities in securing and maintaining meaningful paid employment.

Community Link Colorado
This organization actively supports the inclusion of individuals with disabilities within our community.

Goodwill Industries
They provides services to people with disabilities eligible for their services.  Goodwill services include Deaf Services, Work Activity Day Programs, Enclaves (group work program), Community Integrated Employment and Supported Living Services.

Medicaid Waiver Programs
Some of these programs include employment. Check individual programs for requirements and services. 

MHCD 2 Succeed Program
This program provides employment services, training and post-secondary education support for people with mental illness.

My Next Move
They are a resource to find job openings, training opportunities, and information on over 900 occupations online. This is a free online tool designed to help people determine the right career for them.

Shalom Denver
They provide supported employment, community supported employment, and DVR assessments, job coaching and job search.

Housing Services
Colorado Division of Supportive Housing and Homeless Programs. Supportive Housing Programs (SHP) and Rental Assistance (formerly SHHP). The state operates several resources for low income families that can provide homeless prevention services. If you are faced with an eviction and need funds for paying rent, or if you are currently homeless, learn about programs offered by the Colorado Division of Supportive Housing and Homeless Programs.

Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA)
Organization is focused on helping people and businesses succeed. We’ve seen the positive effects of homeownership and business expansion reverberate throughout communities.

The Hero Alliance- Home Ownership Education and Resource Opportunities
Is a non-profit organization that provides Home Ownership assistance and resources for persons with disabilities in Colorado

For a complete list of housing options in your community or to discuss which option is best for you, please contact your local Community Centered Board (CCB) or the Colorado Developmental Disability Council.

Insurance Services
Health Insurance (Public and Private): Examples of public insurance include Medicaid, Medicare, and several state run children's health plan like CHP+. Examples of private insurance include plans like Kaiser Permanente, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and United Healthcare.  For a more extensive list of Colorado policies, please visit the Division of Insurance.

Autism Society of Colorado
ASC works on issues of public and private insurance.  You can also call the information and referral team and speak with staff about issues and problems. 

Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks, a national organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.

Division of Insurance
This division regulates the insurance industry and assists consumers and other stakeholders with insurance issues. For consumer tips, visit here.  To file a complaint, click here.

Family Voices
This organizations improves access to and quality of health care for children and youth with special health care needs. We work with families, health care and other service providers, and community professionals in the health care and disability fields.

Healthcare Policy and Financing (HCPF)
HCPF administers the Medicaid and Child Health Plan Plus programs as well as a variety of other programs for Colorado's low-income families, the elderly and persons with disabilities.


This is a discussion list of the Autism Society of Colorado (ASC).  Anyone interested in autism in Colorado can join - Parents, Families and Individuals are all welcome. Providers/Clinicians are welcome to join in order to learn, listen and provide support. Sales and advertising by providers are prohibited.  ASC events and announcements are also updated on this list.

Colorado Respite Coalition
Colorado Respite Coalition advocates for a statewide respite system. We are a resource for Colorado families in need of respite options.

EMPOWER Colorado
This email group is available for support anywhere in Colorado. We distribute information about the upcoming meetings, speakers, and issues we have as a local community. Please join us for laughing, crying and building better paths for our children to have a better vision for tomorrow.

GRASP Colorado
GRASP stands for the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership and is a support group for adults with Aspergers Syndrome in Colorado.  People without Aspergers are welcome to join in order to learn more, but are not allowed to comment.

P2P (Parent2Parent)
This list provides an opportunity to exchange information with other parents of sons/daughters with disabilities or special health care needs living in Colorado.

Services and Supports

Colorado Respite Coalition
This organization supports respite options, encourages respite provider networking, and facilitates the development of new, safe, affordable, interactive, and stimulating respite options.

Colorado Fund for People with Disabilities
The fund seeks to enhance the independence and quality of life for people who are elderly or disabled and their families. CFPD shall actively evaluate, monitor, oversee, coordinate and implement services in partnership with its clients and their families to ensure and maintain their rights, integrity and dignity.

Easter Seals
Easter Seals partners with individuals and families to reduce the impact of disability or health challenges to enhance quality of life.

Medicaid Waiver Programs
Applicants must meet eligibility criteria for one of the Medicaid Program categories in order to qualify for benefits.

Special Olympics Colorado
This organization provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendships with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

Denver Regional Mobility and Access Council (DRMAC)
Seeks to coordinate and bring together transportation providers and human services agencies to maximize efficiencies of scale, provide access to specialized transportation for each citizen who requires it and to improve the overall specialized transportation system.

RTD Access A Ride
Provides local bus transportation for people with disabilities. We help individuals who cannot access our fixed-route bus and light rail system to maintain their freedom to travel around the metro area.