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OHIO: "As incidence of autism rises"; $200K for autism training program

July 19, 2023, News-Herald: SUCCESS for Autism’s training program to begin in 2024

SUCCESS for Autism recently announced that it will receive $200,000 in state funding to train local autism teams.

The funding was in House Bill 33 and was passed by both the Ohio House and Senate and signed by Gov. Mike DeWine.

The request began in February when SUCCESS and Integrations Treatment Center in Wickliffe partnered with a government relations firm, G2G Consulting, to request funding to support a post-professional training program.

The $200,000 now will be allocated over the course of the biennial budget within the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s Program and Project Support Line for Success to administer SUCCESSful Training for Autism: An Interprofessional Collaborative Pilot Program.

The purpose of the program is to train more professionals to administer The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach across Ohio.

“Our goal is to best serve people with autism and to support their families,” said Dr. Lynette Scotese-Wojtila, SUCCESS board president and pediatric occupational therapist.

Scotese-Wojtila has been assessing and treating individuals with autism for the last 36 years, most of the time through Integrations Treatment Center.

The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach intervention model has been used primarily in Northeast Ohio for the past 25 years to educate and treat thousands of individuals with autism, according to SUCCESS. A research-based model, it’s grounded in the science of brain development and has shown predictable, rapid results.

Within Ohio, roughly 185,000 individuals are diagnosed with autism, 21,000 of which are school age, according to SUCCESS.

As the incidence of autism rises, so does the need for schools, therapy centers, residential centers, county boards and government programs to provide comprehensive, accessible and impactful autism interventions. However, barriers to providing interventions include workforce shortages, limited team collaboration, team burnout and limited team autism experience. Now that Ohio legislators have approved funding, SUCCESS for Autism will begin administering the SUCCESSful Training Program for Autism in early 2024 with the hope of increasing the model’s accessibility to both children and adults in various settings across Northeast Ohio.

“The need is high,” said Jennifer Repella, director of operations at Integrations Treatment Center. “Teachers, therapists and parents are searching for resources for their children. This is evidenced by the drastic increase in the number of calls we receive at Integrations Treatment Center, which celebrates almost three decades of positive outcomes for those we serve.”

The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach is different from standard care of autism treatment because it is brain-based, not behavior-based, according to Richard Smith, educator and parent.

“It is this individualized and critical brain-based intervention alternative that is changing the paradigm on how autism is assessed, treated and managed,” Smith said.

The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Approach consists of professionally designed and personalized programming that stimulates critical brain changes. This optimal brain function serves as the necessary foundation for a child to advance in cognition, language, fine motor, gross motor, social-emotional and self-care, according to Scotese-Wojtila.

SUCCESS for Autism plans to launch the state-funded, 18-month training program in the new year with the open application phase of the program. During this phase, four-member autism teams with support from local schools, residential facilities, daycares and private clinics can submit their autism team application following the guidelines submission link SUCCESS for Autism website, which will be activated in early 2024.

Thirty years ago, Centers for Disease Control reported the incidence of autism was one in 10,000, according to Scotese-Wojtila. Today’s incidence has increased to approximately one in 44.

“This reflects a staggering increase over three decades,” Scotese-Wojtila said. “Our method is designed specifically for children with autism that focuses on brain health to help children be physically and mentally ready to unlock their true potential.”


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