Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Working Hard to Help Children

For the past 15 years, YSU's Rich Center for Autism has been providing education and support services for children with autism and their families.  As I talked with Georgia Backus, Director of the Rich Center, I was struck by two things.  First, autism seems to be a growing, changing phenomenon.  That may be due primarily to better diagnosis, and as Georgia acknowledges, even some tendency to over-diagnosis, but it also reflects continuing research and better understanding of the various ways autism might manifest itself.  Second, because children with autism have such a range of needs, and because the Center aims not only to provide services for those affected by autism but also support research, work with area educators and counselors, and improve public understanding of autism, managing this Center is a huge, complex task.  How do you organize individualized education for dozens of children, manage a staff, work with YSU students coming to observe or tutor, consult with scholars on their research, and serve as the public voice for autism in the community?  It's a good thing Georgia has a lot of energy.

And I forgot one more thing:  raising money.  The Rich Center is funded primarily by grants and donations.  If you want to help, visit their website to find out about fundraising events or just make a donation online. 

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