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Blacher Named Co-chair of Autism Regional Taskforce


Blacher Named Co-chair of Autism Regional Taskforce

Group will make recommendations to California Senate Select Committee on Autism and Related Disorders

(November 24, 2009)

Professor of Education Jan Blacher has been named co-chair of the Inland Empire Autism Regional Taskforce of the California Senate Select Committee on Autism and Related Disorders. Blacher is also the founding director of SEARCH, the resource center in UCR's Graduate School of Education that serves individuals and families affected by autism spectrum disorder. Enlarge

Professor of Education Jan Blacher has been named co-chair of the Inland Empire Autism Regional Taskforce of the California Senate Select Committee on Autism and Related Disorders. Blacher is also the founding director of SEARCH, the resource center in UCR's Graduate School of Education that serves individuals and families affected by autism spectrum disorder.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – Jan Blacher, professor of education and founding director of UC Riverside’s (UCR) SEARCH autism resource center has been named co-chair of the Inland Empire Autism Regional Taskforce (IEART) of the California Senate Select Committee on Autism and Related Disorders.

The IEART is one of several taskforces that have been formed across the state to focus on issues of housing, insurance, training and employment, and early identification and intervention for persons and their families affected by autism spectrum disorder.

The taskforce will provide recommendations to the select committee, which is charged with developing legislation related to these issues. The committee is chaired by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.

“This appointment speaks to the reputation Jan Blacher has rightfully earned in the field of autism spectrum disorder,” said Steven Bossert, dean of UCR’s Graduate School of Education (GSOE). “Her tireless efforts on behalf of individuals and families affected by autism have been effective and inspiring, and I’m confident the Senate Select Committee will benefit from her experience, knowledge and leadership.”

“This dovetails nicely with the mission of SEARCH to bring knowledge and expertise to the community,” Blacher said.

Blacher foresees involving SEARCH’s Doug Flutie, Jr. Fellows in the work of the taskforce, which she describes as a win-win situation. “Our fellows bring their experience in providing support for families in the region, and they gain the experience of developing public policy related to autism,” she said.

Co-chairing the taskforce with Blacher is Rebecca Silva, administrator of the Special Education Unit at the Riverside County Office of Education. Silva earned her Ph.D. from UCR's GSOE.

The GSOE established the SEARCH (Support, Education, Advocacy, Resources, Community, Hope) autism resource center to provide diagnostic and educational services for families, as well as research opportunities for graduate students and faculty at UCR. It is currently estimated that 1 in 100 children are afflicted with autism spectrum disorder.

Blacher's advocacy for early intervention with children diagnosed with autism was the subject of a recent opinion article Invest Early in Autism Therapy published by the The Press Enterprise.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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