Developmental Screening & Referral Program: DSR Program


DSR Program:

Somali Health Board’s Developmental Screenings and Referral program is available to the estimated 8,000 Somali residents in King County. The Somali Health Board’s efforts to address health disparities in the Somali community begin in early childhood. With the understanding that our community faces many challenges in accessing healthcare and that these challenges are compounded by others including language barriers and lack of culturally sensitive services. SHB began this project to address a specific challenge: autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and delayed developmental screenings. Through the developmental screening and referral program, SHB aims to address misconceptions about ASD and developmental delay in the community, provide education to families and providers, create a support group for Somali parents with children who are on the spectrum, and refer families to care providers. This work was co-designed and informed by our community at every step.


Our goals:

  • Destigmatize topics surrounding ASD and other developmental delays by engaging Somali families to learn about needs, attitudes, and beliefs surrounding these topics.
  • Increased equitable access to culturally and linguistically relevant services and supports, across systems.
  • Increase knowledge and engagement of community supports that align with efforts to integrate health and human services, promote equitable outcomes, reduce health disparities, and increase the quality of life.
  • Provide relevant and completed referrals to Somali families and their children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other developmental delays.
  • Deliver outreach and engagement activities that center on effective community education and stigma-reduction of ASD and other developmental delays for Somali families.
  • Increasing the health care and childcare providers' understanding about Somali religious practices, cultural practices, gender roles, and beliefs about illness and medicine to promote relationships with Somali families based on trust. This will also aid in more effective detection of ASD and developmental delays so families can be linked to early intervention services and support.

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