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Autism Program In Dev At UCS

Anonymous $14,000 Donation Funds Autism Program

Staff Training & Program in Development to Provide Services for Children with Autism                               

Bennington, Vt. — As a result of an anonymous $14,000 stock donation, United Counseling Service is creating a new program to provide services for children with Autism. The program will be administered through the Youth and Family Services Division (YFS) at UCS and is in the early stages of development including staff training and certification.

“We want to send out a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the individual who made this generous donation. With these funds we are able to create a new resource to help our community and provide services to the increasing number of children who are diagnosed with Autism and their families” said UCS Executive Director Ralph Provenza.

Autism Spectrum Disorders and Autism describe a group of complex disorders of brain development that are characterized by difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors. Signs of Autism typically occur between 2 and 3 years of age, and early intervention paired with behavioral therapy has proven to improve outcomes.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identify that roughly 1 in 88 children are on the Autism spectrum, and that the disorder is more common among boys than girls. It is estimated that 1 out of 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls are diagnosed with Autism in the United States.

“The new program at UCS is in its development stage,” according to YFS Clinical Supervisor Michelle Burnham, with staff researching programs offered in Vermont and other states, obtaining new training, attending workshops and seminars, and getting new certifications. Burnham shared that they are also looking to create a parent advisory panel to help develop and build the new program.

“Parents and family members who have a loved one with Autism are often the best advisors on the services needed because each individual case is very unique,” said Burnham.

UCS staff members are being trained in the Applied Behavioral Analysis program are becoming Board Certified Behavioral Analysts.

While the program itself is in its early stages of development and certification for staff can take roughly two years, the parent advisory panel will start much sooner and interested parents should contact UCS to participate. They are invited to call Michelle Burnham, at 442-5491.

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