New autism efforts in Pennsylvania

    Pennsylvania is launching three new regional collaborations that will connect autism researchers and service providers to support families and train professionals.

    Pennsylvania is seeing a lot of new energy directed toward autism. The state is launching three new regional collaborations that will connect researchers and service providers to support families and train professionals. That follows one of the main recommendation of the 2004 Pennsylvania Autism Task Force. And a new autism center is opening in Allentown this weekend.

    Listen:

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    About one in 150 children has autism – and advocates say new research and treatment efforts come in response to increased need.

    St. Joseph University also has an autism center opening in the fall, the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support. Executive director Michelle Rowe says the improved resources are also a testament to the successful rallying of autism advocates:

    Rowe: Individuals who have been affected by this have been in powerful positions to lobby for helping other families to receive services that maybe they didn’t get and some of these people are in positions where they can financially help, some are not, but are very active in going in and lobbying for better services

    Families affected by autism often complain about long waits for diagnosis and treatment, and fragmented services.

    The Lehigh Valley Autism Resource Community Hub which opens in Allentown this weekend takes a comprehensive approach to treating autism by offering several services in the same location. Michelle Rowe says in addition to making parents’ lives easier, this also helps kids who have autism:

    Rowe:
    these children have a lot of sensory issues and putting them in a car and then moving them from place to place is what we call a novel event, or a novel stimulus, which means that each one of those changes in environment could trigger a meltdown because of the sensory issues so it’s great to go to one place and receive multiple therapies

    The new center in Allentown will provide services to 200 families.

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