The Christian Sarkine Autism Treatment Center (CSATC) at Riley Hospital for Children recently launched Helping Answer Needs by Developing Specialists in Autism (HANDS in Autism). The program was established with a $468,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the CSATC and Clarian Health Partners, creating an intensive training program that will initially be geared to teachers, administrators and other personnel in local school districts.
"Professionals who complete HANDS training will receive intensive, hands-on experience in a mock classroom setting and will be better equipped to effectively teach these children," says Naomi Swiezy, Ph.D., clinical director of the Sarkine Center and associate professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
"The CDC grant enables us to get the right resources to those who work regularly with children having autism."
In addition to the primary training program, the CSATC staff will provide outreach activities including education and awareness efforts to a variety of community groups.
"Ultimately, we want to expand the program to reach caregivers in communities throughout Indiana and to raise awareness about this disorder," adds Dr. Swiezy.
Established in 2003, the CSATC actively treats more than 800 children and is the only pediatric academic and research program in Indiana. It also provides consultation and services to patients from Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky. U.S. Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana was instrumental in securing funding to establish the center.
It is estimated that 38,000 Hoosier children have autism, according to a source at the Autism Society of Indiana. Nationally, more than 1.5 million children and adults are said to have the disorder, which affects the normal development of the brain.
Children and adults with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.
For more information about the Christian Sarkine Autism Treatment Center, go to www.iupui.edu/~psycdept/autism.