Baylor Autism Resource Center Launches New Assessment and Support Programs
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Media Contact: Tonya B. Lewis, (254) 710-4656
WACO, Texas (October 1, 2012)- According to the Centers for Disease Control, "about 1 in 88 children have been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)" and research shows a steady increase in its occurrence. In an effort to provide support for parents and those with ASD, the Baylor Autism Resource Center (BARC) is providing additional services and programs--autism assessment, parent workshops, special education and advocacy services and a support group for those with Asperger's syndrome.
Beginning this October, BARC staff will provide assessments for ASD, a service that Kristen Mainor, coordinator of the BARC, believes will affect not only the Waco community but surrounding cities as well.
"Currently, parents have informed me the wait for an assessment for ASD is six months to a year in Waco and other communities in the Central Texas area," Mainor said. "Here at the BARC, our hope is to see children sooner and provide the service at an affordable rate."
The BARC will provide assessment services for a very low fee for parents and smaller school districts that do not have psychologists on campus. The average cost of an assessment for ASD can range from $1,800 to $2,000 and oftentimes is not entirely covered by insurance. The fee includes a diagnostic assessment, report, and review of evaluation.
The evaluation process includes cognitive, achievement and social-emotional, and speech and language assessments, along with an in-take interview, observation and information gathering from those that work closely with the child. Appointments can be made by calling the BARC at 254-710-6222 or by emailing Kristen_Mainor@baylor.edu.
Julie Ivey-Hatz, Ph.D., assistant professor of educational psychology at Baylor University and founder and director of the BARC, said the assessments provide another avenue for making diagnostic services more accessible for parents.
"The BARC is now providing low-cost autism assessments for families. We hope this will reduce the wait for families who need services for young children. Early intervention is very critical," Ivey-Hatz said.
For those that have an ASD diagnosis, BARC staff in collaboration with the Office of Access and Learning Accommodation at Baylor, offer the Asperger's Support Program for Baylor, McLennan County Community College and Texas State Technical College students. The Asperger's Support Program gives students an opportunity to meet with other students to address academic and social issues that arise for students with Asperger's Syndrome.
"The Asperger's College Support group has been a huge success," Ivey-Hatz said. "We are so glad to have young adults from several colleges utilizing our services and seeking support."
Also beginning this month are parent workshops.
"We discovered that parents want more information about ASD and other related issues. To gauge parents' interests, we created surveys and will use the survey responses to organize the workshop topics and speakers," Mainor said.
During the workshops, Baylor education psychology graduate students will host "Social Circles," an on-going BARC program where ASD students interact and develop their social skills while their parents attend the workshops.
Along with the workshops, parents can find another service directly aimed at meeting their needs--the special education consultation and advocacy services.
"Many parents often lack knowledge in special education law and their rights as a parent of a child with a disability," Mainor said. "The BARC is seeking to address those concerns by helping parents to better understand services pertaining to individualized education plans; behavior intervention plans; Admission Review, and Dismissal meetings and other education needs pertaining to their child."
Other BARC services include a resource library of more than 200 items that are free to check out, one-on-one Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy services for children aimed at improving behavior and the Autism Summer Day Camp. The BARC was opened in January 2008 with a grant from the Waco Foundation and support from Baylor University. To learn more about the BARC and its programs and services, visit the BARC website or call 254-710-6222.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.