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Saratoga Springs, NY: College to be "fully autism-supportive"; 'faculty will adopt new methods'

Aug 9, 2020, The Saratogian, Saratoga Springs, NY: SUNY Empire launches new autism center https://www.saratogian.com/news/local-news/suny-empire-launches-new-autism-center/article_66383470-da46-11ea-bb0a-d38de943098a.html SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — SUNY Empire State College launched its new statewide Center for Autism Inclusivity in an effort to be a fully autism-supportive college while meeting the growing demand for professionals working with children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network reported 1 in 54 children is identified with a spectrum disorder by the age of eight years old.
Despite the growing number of students with autism who seek a college degree, there is a scarcity of higher education programs to fully support students with ASD, according to a press release from the college.
Announced on Thursday during a socially-distanced press conference at SUNY Empire's Saratoga Springs campus, the school’s new Center for Autism Inclusivity, in partnership with Anderson Center for Autism, will work with high schools throughout New York state to identify qualified students with ASD to enroll at SUNY Empire, as the college is expanding its offerings and services to meet the needs of these students….
To promote autism inclusivity more broadly, the center will collaborate with partners across the state to provide parents, teachers, employers, and service providers the most up-to-date information about autism spectrum disorders….
“SUNY Empire’s mission calls for dramatically expanding access to higher education and today’s announcement continues that important commitment,” said SUNY Empire State College President Jim Malatras said in the release.
“Our faculty will adopt new methods and adjust teaching styles to ensure incoming students with autism spectrum disorders are given every advantage, and feel comfortable and confident in the college environment in order to graduate and achieve future success. …
Anderson Center for Autism Chief Executive Officer Patrick Paul, an alumnus of SUNY Empire State College, added, “Collaborations such as the one we are embarking on with SUNY Empire State College are going to play an instrumental role in the future of service development and delivery for individuals with autism. “I am excited about the opportunities that this, and future collaborations will provide for individuals and families who have historically been underserved. Anderson Center for Autism is happy to share our focus and expertise in the field of autism with SUNY Empire State College, a leader in the field of academia and personalized, accessible learning.”…
SUNY Empire State College School for Graduate Studies dean Nathan Gonyea said he is thrilled to launch the Center for Autism Inclusivity, which has been in development for several years. “The creation of the center is a sign of the commitment of SUNY Empire to help serve everyone in our community, including those who have historically faced barriers to receiving the education and services they need and deserve, including access to a high-quality higher education experience. I look forward to the coming months and years as we begin to launch the various programs and initiatives that will be part of the center,” he said in the release.
“Unfortunately, there are not enough credentialed behavior analysts in New York state to reach the vast number of children and families in need and truly optimize the quality of life for an individual with an autism spectrum disorder,” added Tina Covington, chief operating officer of the Anderson Center for Autism. “Anderson Center for Autism is well equipped to address this gap head-on, by developing collaborative models which allow our expertise in the field reach a broader group of service recipients, while also increasing the number of well-educated and well-trained professionals in the field. I am looking forward to seeing this collaboration with SUNY Empire State College come to life and begin impacting people throughout New York state.”…
“I applaud SUNY Empire and the Anderson Center for Autism for their work to create a more accessible future for students, caretakers, and families across New York state – ultimately giving them the greatest chance to overcome the challenges they face and utilize the unique and special talents they possess.”
McDonald, who is the grandfather of two children with autism said he is grateful to SUNY Empire for this effort.
“More services are needed for the increasing number of young children being diagnosed, and their families. The more knowledge we have and can share, the better off everyone is,” he said in the release. “We need to do more to learn about and understand their needs, and I hope we have the capacity to turn this into a real successful program.”…
“It [is] exciting to know this new partnership will be focused on the growing need for professionals working with children and adults with autism spectrum disorders,” he said in the release, sharing that his teenage son Michael was born with autism. “This collaboration is a great step forward towards advancing academic programs that prepare the workforce to address educational, emotional, and social needs of those living with autism and I’m confident it will help make life-changing advances and lead to better outcomes.”…
Mary Ann Allen, executive director of Wildwood Programs added, “There is a growing demand for resources in our field and the center will be a true asset to all organizations supporting people with autism. We look forward to future collaborations, connections and networking with the center. in our field and the center will be a true asset to all organizations supporting people with autism. We look forward to future collaborations, connections and networking with the center.”