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Autism Center Recruiting Families


UC Riverside's Autism Center Recruiting Families

The SEARCH center is recruiting Inland Empire families of children with autism spectrum disorder for free screening clinics and free parent information sessions.

(March 23, 2010)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - (www.ucr.edu) - An autism resource center at UC Riverside is conducting screening clinics for young children suspected of having autism and recruiting parents for group sessions about treatment options that will begin this summer.

"This is all about creating an appropriate education program," said Jan Blacher, founder and director of SEARCH (Support, Education, Advocacy, Resources, Community, Hope) center and professor of education. "There is absolutely nowhere in the Inland Empire for parents to go to find that. We have tried to create one-stop shopping."

The screening clinics, which are ideal for children 2 to 5 years old but open to everyone, provide an in-depth assessment using the Autism Diagnostic Observation System. They are being conducted in English or Spanish on the UCR campus and in the San Bernardino Unified School District. Three UCR doctoral students traveled to the University of Michigan to learn the system. Funding from First 5 San Bernardino made that training possible.

Meanwhile, the group sessions are aimed at parents of children with autism up to age 7 years, said Blacher, who was recently named co-chair of the Inland Empire Autism Regional Taskforce. Parents will meet in groups once a week for three weeks to learn about evidence-based autism education programs. In the fourth week, parents can attend an optional one-on-one session with a staff member who will consult about their child’s education program.

Parents who want more information about the group sessions or screening clinics can call SEARCH at 951-827-3849 or send an e-mail to searchcenter@ucr.edu.

The new programs coincide with National Autism Awareness Month in April and World Autism Day on April 2.

With an estimated one in 100 children being diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Blacher established SEARCH to bridge the gap between diagnosis and available services. The center has a strong focus on education and targets Spanish-speaking and low-income residents.

Since its beginning in early 2008, SEARCH developed a Web site, www.searchcenter.ucr.edu, with an online resource guide providing information about services in Riverside County and Southern California. There is also information about autism-friendly doctors and dentists, support groups, as well as education services.

SEARCH is closely tied to a recently established Autism Master's in Education degree program in the UCR Graduate School of Education. The degree is intended to prepare teachers better to educate students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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