Governor Appoints Professor to Texas Autism Council
Sept. 10, 2008
Gov. Rick Perry has appointed Dr. Pam Rollins, associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, to serve on the Council on Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders.
The council, which was established in 1987, makes recommendations to the Legislature and state agencies to coordinate resources to meet the needs of people with autism and pervasive developmental disorders and their families.
Rollins will serve through Feb. 1, 2010.
The appointment complements Rollins’ 25 years of clinical and research experience in the area of social communication and autism. She is the founder and director of the Early CLASS (Communication, Language and Social Skills) at the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders. The Early CLASS is a classroom-based program for children between the ages of 2 ½ and 5 who are on the autism spectrum.
“The Early CLASS provides behavioral therapy with a social pragmatic perspective,” said Rollins. “We are the only program in Dallas that uses the SCERTS model, which identifies Social Communication and Emotional Regulation as the core challenges in ASD (autism spectrum disorders). It helps the children become more competent communicators while preventing problem behaviors that interfere with learning and relationships.”
Each year, eight children who exhibit problems with social communication and social relationships enroll in the program. The children are paired with UT Dallas graduate students who provide one-on-one speech, language and communication therapy. Jamie Cato, a licensed speech-language pathologist, serves as the program’s clinical instructor and works closely with the graduate students, children and parents.
Tuition dollars fund the program. If a family is unable to pay the entire tuition, limited funds are available for scholarships.
In July, Rollins gave a presentation to the Altrusa Club of Dallas, a philanthropic organization that promotes community service among its members. The club honored Rollins with a $1400 grant to support scholarships for the Early CLASS.
“I love that I have made a difference in the lives of children with ASD,” said Rollins. “And through the training of the graduate students, the lives of so many more children will be positively affected.”