Unique training for those with autism gains support

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University of Houston-Clear Lake’s Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities received $35,300 from the Fondren Foundation to help kick-start a unique training program for young adults with high-functioning autism.

“A large percentage of individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder have been diagnosed with high-functioning autism,” says Professor of Psychology and Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Director Dorothea Lerman. “Despite the large number of people with this disorder, very little has been done to target this particular population. This project will focus on a rather unusual vocational training opportunity.”

The program will offer this segment of the population training that would prepare them for employment and careers as behavior interventionists, working with young children with autism. Learning the skills to teach children with autism may also improve the social skills of the participants. Finally, the employment opportunities for high-functioning autism individuals with these types of social skills are greater and can provide higher paying jobs than typical minimum-wage jobs held by some with high-functioning autism. And, in fact, since most are unemployed, this type of training can give them an edge.

In 2011, Lerman piloted a study that helped put the training program in place. After qualifying for the study, four young adults began training with positive results, which Lerman published earlier this year. Three of the participants successfully completed the training program, with one of the four now working in a clinic.

“I was very pleased with the results,” says Lerman. “As one of our participants said, ‘I really think this is something I would love to do someday as a job.’”

Lerman says her wish is that by the beginning of summer 2014 the program will have proven to be such a success that government agencies and behavioral intervention clinics might want to partner with UHCL’s center.

To find out more about this innovative training program or the center, visit http://hsh.uhcl.edu/CADD or email AutismCenter@uhcl.edu.

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University of Houston-Clear Lake offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including a doctoral program, from its four schools, which include the School of Business, School of Education, School of Human Sciences and Humanities, and School of Science and Computer Engineering. In 2011, the university gained approval from the state to add freshman- and sophomore-level courses to its roster and is currently planning for its first freshman class in fall 2014. For more information about the university, visit http://www.uhcl.edu.



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