Autism Project Offers New Sources of Hope and Help
Support from Crystal Charity Ball Enables Multi-Institution Collaboration
The UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders has been helping children with autism and their families for more than 30 years. And as a member of the Crystal Charity Ball (CCB) Autism Project, the center is offering hope and help to even more North Texas families touched by the disorder.
The CCB Autism Project is a new collaboration between UT Southwestern Medical Center, Children’s Medical Center Dallas, UT Dallas Center for BrainHealth and the Callier Center. Its goal is to provide a comprehensive, coordinated clinical and research program that will help children with autism and their families obtain accurate diagnoses, explore treatment options and coordinate long term care.
As a project member, the Callier Center is offering five group programs for children ages 18 months to 12 years. The programs focus on providing positive communication interactions, exploring effective therapeutic strategies, and preventing behaviors that interfere with learning and relationships.
The center also provides a group program at its Richardson location for young adults ages 17 to 30 years with Asperger Syndrome.
In addition to the clinical services, research is being conducted into the causes and treatment of autism. At the Callier Center, researchers with the Treatment Outcome Communication Project aim to design and test procedures to evaluate intervention program outcomes for young children with the disorder.
“The research is a critical component of this project,” said Dr. Thomas Campbell, executive director of the Callier Center. “By integrating the resources of the three institutions, we hope to uncover the mysteries associated with autism spectrum disorders.”
Because of the complex nature of autism spectrum disorders, the CCB Autism Project is committed to training healthcare workers using a specific curriculum focused on the benefits of early diagnosis, the characteristics of the disorder and the characteristics of treatment. The training is expected to start in the spring.
At UT Dallas, graduate students enrolled in the master of science program in communication disorders are already receiving the training through their coursework. Furthermore, the students receive hands-on training working with children enrolled in some of the group programs.
“The four institutions have done a tremendous job combining their resources and building a strong foundation on which to build this project,” said Bert Moore, dean of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, which includes the Callier Center and Center for BrainHealth. “With the creation of a family resource center and an online directory, the CCB Autism Project is well on its way to becoming a national model.”
The CCB Autism Project is funded by a two-year, $1.4 million grant from the Crystal Charity Ball.
Families interested in learning more about the project may visit the Callier Center’s Web site or contact the project’s family care coordinator at 214-456-7700.