Autism clinic provides area youth with support services

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: October 03, 2011

A collaborative partnership between the Texas Autism Collaborative (TAC) at the Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University and Easter Seals East Texas is providing local children with autism support services.

The Autism, Assessment, Research and Intervention Clinic (AARIC) was established in June 2011 to serve children, ages 2-5 years, with or suspected of having autism spectrum disorders.

The clinic is staffed by graduate and undergraduate students in special education, clinical psychology and school psychology programs at Texas A&M.

The intervention sessions are supervised by Board Certified Behavior Analysts®, intervention co-directors and faculty members in the educational psychology department at Texas A&M, Jennifer Ganz and Mandy Rispoli. The assessment sessions are lead by co-directors Cynthia Riccio and Anita McCormick, also faculty members in the educational psychology department at Texas A&M.

The clinic mirrors much of the same that you would see in a normal pre-school environment, with group read-aloud, snack time, structured play and arts and crafts. There are also therapy rooms available to work with children on a one-on-one basis as needed."

Naturalistic instruction, that is, targeting skill deficits during typical routines and play, has been demonstrated to be particularly beneficial for young children with autism because it results in generalization of learned skills," said Ganz. "Children with autism are more likely to demonstrate skill mastery across a variety of contexts when skills are taught throughout the day and during typical activities.

"The clinic targets communication, social and behavioral skills appropriate for preschoolers and toddlers. The staff assesses the children's performance on those skills, designs an intervention and collects data to determine if it is working and makes necessary adjustments.

"The clinic has been immensely successful since opening this summer. All of the parents reported that they were thrilled with the progress their children made," said Ganz. "We anticipate growth in demand for the programs and expansion to serve more children and, hopefully, a wider age-range. Immediate plans include providing continual assessment services and another intervention clinic in the spring."

The fall session began in early September and will run Monday through Thursday at the Brazos Valley Rehab Center for the next 12 weeks.

Please visit the TAC website to find out more about the clinic. To see more photos from the clinic, visit the College of Education and Human Development's Flickr account.

About the Texas Autism CollaborativeThe Texas Autism Collaborative (TAC) is a university-based program at Texas A&M University and is affiliated with the Center on Disability and Development. TAC's mission is to improve outcomes for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in school, home and community settings and to train practitioners to use research based methods with this population via research, training and outreach.