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University Relations

University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943


Skelton's Support Lands $280,000 for Autism Center

Contact Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Feb. 15, 2010) – Support from Missouri Congressman Ike Skelton enables UCM to receive federal funding for its Midwest Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders for the third consecutive year.

Skelton announced the center will receive $280,000 in grant funds made possible by the federal 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act. The grant will be administered through the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.

“Over the past two decades, there has been a marked increase in the number of people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The Midwest Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders provides vital support for this growing population in rural Missouri, which is why I was proud to support the University of Central Missouri's efforts to secure funding for the center this year," Skelton said.

The Congressman’s support includes a $286,898 grant in 2008 to help plan and launch the center, followed by $285,000 in 2009 for the second phase of development, which included providing consultation and training for area schools, working with teachers, and scheduling and performing clinical evaluations of individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Both of these grants were made possible through Omnibus appropriations bills.

When UCM President Aaron Podolefsky arrived on campus five years ago, he established the institution’s first federal legislative agenda. Funds for the autism center are part of this effort coming to fruition.

“Faculty and staff across three of our academic colleges are committed to providing services that benefit children with autism disorders, their families and school districts, but doing so is highly dependent on these federal funds,” Podolefsky said. “We appreciate Congressman Skelton’s continued support of the university, the Midwest Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Missouri families in need of assistance.”

According to Joyce Anderson Downing, professor of special education and associate dean of the College of Education, the center is needed to address a shortage of available professionals in the region who are trained to evaluate and work with students with disabilities, including autism. The center provides a multidisciplinary perspective needed to effectively assess and teach students with ASD, while also providing ongoing support for families and school professionals. It operates under the auspices of the College of Education’s Alliance for Innovation and Research in Education, with the primary location for the center’s clinical services in UCM’s Welch-Schmidt Center for Communication Disorders. It provides teacher training in cooperation with the Central Regional Professional Development Center, located at UCM.

Parents of children with ASD and anyone else who is interested in making a referral or learning more about the center is urged to call 660-543-4272.