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Children and Teens With Autism to Benefit From More Than $1 Million in State Grants

Monday July 10, 10:28 am ET

HARRISBURG, Pa., July 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Six organizations that serve children and teens with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have each been awarded $175,000 by the Department of Public Welfare to provide enhanced evaluation and treatment services.

The grants are a result of Governor Edward G. Rendell's $3 million commitment to help the commonwealth increase awareness and support of Pennsylvanians with autism.

The DPW presented the grants to organizations involved in providing services, such as social skills training, family supports and after school programs, in inner city school districts for children with ASD.

"These grants will continue to strengthen essential services offered to children in Pennsylvania with autism and related disorders," Secretary Estelle B. Richman said. "The Rendell Administration is strongly committed to supporting facilities that provide effective treatment of autism, as well as increasing public awareness of, and generating additional support for, these organizations."

ASD, which includes autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder and Asperger syndrome, typically affect a person's ability to communicate and can hinder social interaction. People living with autism often demonstrate a wide array of both strengths and challenges. While some persons with ASD have average or above-average intelligence and may have normal speech, many individuals with autism have difficulty understanding social customs and perceiving what those around them think and feel.

The grants attracted statewide interest and were awarded to applicants that sought to provide supports to families, integrate behavioral health and education services and incorporate measures of outcomes.

For more information on autism, visit one of these Web sites: www.dpw.state.pa.us/foradults/autismservices/; www.firstsigns.org or www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism.

The Department of Public Welfare helps people meet their basic needs by providing health care and other critical support services for children, the elderly, people with chronic diseases, persons with disabilities and low income families and adults in Pennsylvania. DPW is dedicated to promoting, improving, and sustaining the quality of family life; breaking the cycle of dependency while protecting and serving Pennsylvania's most vulnerable citizens. Visit DPW on the Internet at: www.dpw.state.pa.us.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A list of grant recipients and summary of programs follows:

Philhaven/Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities
Dr. Michael Fueyo
780 Eden Road, Lancaster, PA 17601
This project will develop a community-based service that will provide a comprehensive multidisciplinary evaluation as well as work with families and the education system in the implementation of effective treatments. This program will relate the evaluation to the child's treatment plan, collaborating across systems to ensure coherence across home, school and community environments.
Keystone Children & Family Services
Dr. Joseph Manduchi
3700 Vartan Way, Harrisburg, PA 17110
A Coordination Care Manager will integrate the three components of service delivery: assessment, intervention and family support. In addition to the goal of improving the child's functioning, other goals include addressing family stress, enhancing community supports and coordinating treatment with the education system. This grant will support group consultation among professionals to develop innovative treatment strategies.
Special People in the Northeast (SPIN)
Kathleen Brown McHale
10521 Drummond Road, Philadelphia, PA 19154
In this program, each child will receive services from a child and family- centered perspective, recognizing that a child is best treated in the context of family, community, culture and school. An Individual Child/Family Support Plan will include a behavioral plan, an educational plan, communication and sensory integration techniques, a family life support plan and a community/social skills support plan.
The Center for Autistic Children
Jean Ruttenberg
3965 Conshohocken Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19131
This grant will be used to develop Specialized Autism Services (SAS) and a Social Competence After School Program in the Philadelphia school district. SAS offers intensive programming for children ages two through five and their families. Contextual observation is included in each child's assessment. The Social Competence program will serve children ages six to 13, with outcome measures monitored weekly.
The Watson Institute
Dr. Marilyn Hoyson
301 Camp Meeting Road, Sewickley, PA 15143
The grantee proposes the use of a single treatment plan to be used in both the educational and behavioral health systems. Funding will be used to design an integrated program implemented both in the school during and outside class time (lunch, recess, before/after school) as well as community settings. Emphasis is placed on the development of social skills and social communication.
Western Psychiatric Institute
Dr. Martin J. Lubetsky
3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Children 18 months through five years old are served in this program housed in an inner-city neighborhood in Pittsburgh which operates five days per week throughout the year. Participating children will be evaluated using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) and will receive intensive programming including Discrete Trial Training, incidental teaching, pivotal response strategies and, where appropriate, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS). Parent training will be an important element of the project.
CONTACT: Rita Frealing-Shultz at(717) 787-4592

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.

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