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Autism Center Serves Students, Families and Children

Program Advances Education, Outreach and Research On Autism Spectrum Disorders

April 12, 2013

The College of Education and the College of Health and Human Development have launched a collaboratively staffed center to provide services, resources and support to individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families.
The Center for Autism will begin offering services to children and their families and CSUF students in early May. Besides preparing teachers to use evidence-based interventions to educate K-12 students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), the center will provide screenings, diagnostic evaluations, research investigations and resources, and offer clinical and developmental services to families on a sliding scale.

Founders Erica J. Howell, assistant professor of special education, and Jason K. Baker and Rachel M. Fenning, both assistant professors of child and adolescent studies, will serve as co-directors.

“We’re passionate about making sure children with autism get the right services at the right time, because it makes all the difference in helping them learn and grow,” said Baker.
“There is a high demand for services in Orange County,” explained Fenning. “We envision the center helping to integrate community services, as well as partnering with existing organizations to improve outcomes for children and their families.”

The educational component will draw on the new Peer Assisted College Support program, which pairs students with peers with autism to promote academic and social success, explained Howell. College students with autism can feel socially isolated and logistically challenged by some aspects of attending college, Howell added.
“As students ourselves, we can bring a different type of support to our peers on the autism spectrum, which is important to their college experience and well being,” said Victoria Cid, a communicative disorders major and one of the students working at the center.
In addition to community outreach, the center will offer training and research opportunities for students interested in becoming autism professionals, as well as engage in collaborative, interdisciplinary research in ASD. Current research projects focus on social and emotional development in children with autism and developmental disabilities.
Psychology major Mariann Howland is assisting with the center’s research on autism and high-risk families.
“Through my work with the center, I will gain unparalleled experience in designing, conducting and disseminating research,” said Howland, who plans to earn a doctorate in clinical psychology.

For more information, visit the Center for Autism website.

By: Debra Cano Ramos, 657-278-4027

Tags:  Academics & ResearchCampus UpdatesCommunity