ESU officially opened the doors to their new Autism Education Center on Tuesday, Jan. 28.
The center, which is located in the Innovation Center, will serve as a “resource hub for individuals with autism and their families to seek support or guidance,” said Dr. Rachel Wolf, a professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.
Some of the resources the hub will be offering are referrals to higher levels of care, social groups, networking opportunities, workshops, and training.
“We want to build off of what we already offer,” Dr. Wolf said. “We currently offer speech therapy services, swim and gym, a running clinic and OASIS. The goal is to have more activities to fill in some of the gaps and to provide more for the community.”
The center was created in collaboration with the AllOne Foundation, and organization that works to create new ways of improving the health and welfare of individuals in the northeast region.
The ESU Autism Education Center is one of the 13 centers located across the northeast. Each of these centers works collectively to share resources and information.
By acting as a template for each other, each center is able to share with the other what has or has not worked and how they can implement that in their own centers. In doing so, they hope to become more of what their surrounding communities needs.
The ESU Autism Education Center will also offer resources to services to service coordinators, parents and even educational sessions for teachers.
“These resources will show them how to most effectively educate those with autism, help them develop interpersonal skills and help them with success,” Dr. Wolf said.
Currently, the center already has two events planned for the semester: an art night and a movie night. These events will provide parents with educational services while their children get to indulge in a fun activity.
Both Dr. Wolf and Dr. Denise Seigart, the Dean of Health Sciences, agreed that by observing our community and looking at what they need, they can better implement the services that will fill in the biggest gaps.
Dr. Wolf and Dr. Seigart are also looking to get more students and other departments on campus involved.
“This is a great opportunity to show the community what ESU has to offer,” Dr. Seigart said. “It’s an opportunity for students and faculty to work in the center through various programs which would help to increase the opportunities for the community. A lot of people don’t realize how good East Stroudsburg actually is.”
They encourage members of the ESU community and others to keep checking their website, which will be up and running soon, for updates and to watch their progress throughout the semester.
“We’re mostly just getting questions right now, but we are directing them in the right direction.,” Dr. Wolf said. “We are finding out where those gaps are and are working to fill them. We are also informing pediatricians in the area so that they are also aware of our services and establishing things that aren’t there.”
The ESU Autism Education Center is appointment-based and serves the Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties, but can refer to other centers if needed.
The center will be open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. but are also willing to schedule after school and evenings based on need.
“We want to be more of what people are looking for,” Dr. Wolf said. “We need to fill the gaps and work together.”
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