Two grants totaling $1.5 million will provide better services to Utah’s children with autism spectrum disorders over the next three years. The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University has partnered with two other organizations to train professionals and future leaders in the autism field.
The two grants from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration will go to a program that trains professionals across many disciplines. The Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities program is administered by the University of Utah’s Department of Pediatrics and the CPD. Its goal is to take a family-friendly, integrated and culturally sensitive approach to serving children with disabilities.
The federal administration’s support will allow URLEND to add new trainees with experience or interest in serving the families of children with autism. In addition, the program will work with the Utah State Department of Health to implement activities identified in the statewide strategic plan for autism.
Thomas Higbee, who heads up the CPD’s Autism Support Services: Education, Research and Training program, will be on the faculty and work with the new trainees. ASSERT prepares children with autism to enter the school system, conducts research on the best early education methods for the children and serves as a model classroom for professionals.
The two HSRA grants add to the Center for Persons with Disabilities’ authority in the autism field. In addition to housing the ASSERT program, the center’s biomedical lab has worked to identify genes associated with the condition.
Autism spectrum disorder is the fastest-growing developmental disability in Utah. It usually manifests itself by age three and is characterized by significant problems in getting along with others and communicating. Children with the disorder may have unusual behaviors and learning patterns.
The reported prevalence of ASD in Utah has risen twnetyfold in 20 years, according to a 2007 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Writer: JoLynne Lyon 435-797-1977
Contact: Judith Holt, 435- 797-7157