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UTSA Launches Autism Center
UTSA

January, 2013

The University of Texas at San Antonio College of Education and Human Development announced today that it has created a center focused on addressing the needs of children with autism. The center, called the Teacher Education Autism Model<http://www.utsa.edu/autism> (TEAM), will support teachers working with children with autism while providing low-cost services to Bexar County families in need of applied behavior analysis services.

The overarching goal of the TEAM Center is to increase the number of Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) serving the greater San Antonio community.  In addition to providing applied behavior analysis therapy to children with autism and their families, the TEAM Center provides pre-services teachers with the opportunity to work directly with students with autism, and serves as a research laboratory for determining effective teaching practices.

UTSA will celebrate the launch of the TEAM center at an open house scheduled from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 24 in Durango Building Room 0.220 at the UTSA Downtown Campus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in 88 American children in 2012 has autism. This equates to roughly 730,000 kids across the nation and nearly 30,000 children in Texas, a 400 percent increase over the last 10 years. In San Antonio, 2,602 students received special education services for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) during the 2010-2011 school year. Hispanics currently account for the fastest-growing ASD population.

Pediatricians and other physicians can generally diagnose autism by a child's third birthday. While children with autism can be either low or high functioning, most children with autism display communication skill deficits, social skill deficits, and restricted and repeated interests. Forty percent of children with autism spectrum disorders never learn to talk while 46 percent do not finish high school.

An autism diagnosis can prove very costly. While insurance often covers some treatment, families can generate up to $2.3 million in treatment costs over the lifetime of an individual with autism.

"Aside from a handful of great centers that generally serve military families on the North side, it is difficult for Bexar County families to find affordable services to help children with autism," said Lee Mason, UTSA assistant professor of Special Education. "It is our hope that the TEAM Center will ease the burden for local families who are seeking early intensive behavioral intervention for their children."

The TEAM Center is designed to work like a teaching hospital, providing low-cost Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) services to children up to the age of five with the goal of improving their learning outcomes. Applied Behavioral Analysis is a scientifically valid method shown to support children with a variety of autism spectrum disorders. UTSA graduate students in Special Education will offer the ABA services with oversight from faculty in the UTSA Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching.

Children with autism who receive services from the TEAM center will receive a functional behavioral assessment and a verbal behavior screening that will allow UTSA graduate students to develop individualized, semester-long plans to address the specific needs of each child. Throughout the semester, the children will receive up to seven-and-a-half hours of ABA therapy, five times per week in 90-minute sessions. UTSA will also work with the parents and guardians of the children. At the end of the semester, the progress of each child will be evaluated and the participants will be discharged from the program.

Aspiring Board Certified Behavioral Analysts must complete 1,500 hours of field experience and pass the Board Certified Behavioral Analyst Exam before they may practice in the field independently. While working in the TEAM Center, UTSA graduate students will take a series of courses to prepare them to enter the field, the first such sequence of courses approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board at a San Antonio university or college.

UTSA is now enrolling children for the spring 2013 semester. Families who are interested in receiving services for their children through the TEAM classroom should visit http://bit.ly/Vi8OCc.

Additionally, the center will offer trainings to provide teachers with the tools they need to successfully work with their students with autism. Teachers are encouraged to watch www.utsa.edu/autism<http://www.utsa.edu/autism> for details.

The TEAM Center was developed in larger part by UTSA faculty Lee Mason and Maria Kaylor. Professor Mason is a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA-D) whose research expertise focuses on children with autism. Kaylor, an associate professor, specializes in the preparation of beginning Special Education teachers. Impact San Antonio has provided initial funding to support the launch of this center.

To learn more about the TEAM classroom, or to support the center, contact Professor Mason at lee.mason@utsa.edu<mailto:lee.mason@utsa.edu> or 210-458-2007, or visit www.utsa.edu/autism<http://www.utsa.edu/autism>.


About UTSA

The University of Texas at San Antonio is one of the largest of nine academic universities and six health institutions in the UT System. As a multicultural institution of access and excellence, UTSA aims to be a national research university providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.


UTSA serves nearly 31,000 students in more than 135 degree programs in the colleges of Architecture, Business, Education and Human Development, Engineering, Liberal and Fine Arts, Public Policy and Sciences as well as University College, the Honors College and the Graduate School. Founded in 1969, UTSA is an intellectual and creative resource center and a socioeconomic development catalyst for Texas and beyond. Learn more at www.utsa.edu<http://www.utsa.edu>.



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