Expanding autism services

Friday, October 01, 2010 - Expanding autism services

Education program expanded through 12th grade at Ozark Center for Autism
JOPLIN, Mo.—Since opening its doors in 2007, the preschool within Ozark Center for Autism has made incredible strides among children living with autism. The center’s intense one-on-one therapy literally unlocks portions of the brain that control language, emotion, social skills, and interest, bringing about life-changing transformations for students. Since its inception, 27 children have been introduced to Applied Behavior Analysis therapy available at the preschool.

A recent program expansion has poised that number for growth.

Ozark Center for Autism, developed in consultation with Cleveland Clinic Autism Consulting Group, now provides therapy to students from prekindergarten through grade 12. The newly established Special Education Center offers benefits similar to those already available in the preschool program, including specialized training from credentialed behavior analysts.

“Some children living with autism adjust to a classroom and do exceptionally well,” said Paula Baker, Freeman Chief Clinical Officer and administrator for all autism programming. “There exists, however, a population of children whose symptoms make it difficult for them to function in a traditional classroom setting. Ozark Center for Autism Special Education Center was founded with those students in mind.”

Students with autism spectrum disorders require targeted therapy to build skills necessary to transition into mainstream classrooms. Ozark Center for Autism Special Education Center supplies students a proven treatment program with autism-specific educational curriculum.

Baker said the center hopes to expand upon the success of the preschool. “Given the progress made by our preschool students, imagine what can be accomplished with those additional years at Ozark Center for Autism,” she said.

The Special Education Center, which accepts students from throughout the Four States, will operate 12 months a year to prevent regression associated with extended time without treatment. Specific, developmentally appropriate individualized goals are assigned to students. Targeted learning opportunities help develop social skills in everyday settings.

Instructors, including special education teachers, on-site behavior analysts, and implementers, are trained to use the latest evidence-based treatment proven effective for children, adolescents, or young adults with autism. Staff participate in ongoing training to remain current with new research available in the field. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has labeled autism an urgent public health concern, according to cdc.gov. CDC estimates that one in 80 boys and one in 240 girls are affected by autism. While there is no known cause, prevention, or cure, early intervention does help a child gain maximum treatment benefit.

About Ozark Center
An integral component of Freeman Health System based in Joplin, Missouri, Ozark Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services to children, adults, and families in an area that includes more than 450,000 residents from Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Ozark Center continually looks for innovative ways to address the mental health needs of the community and promote awareness of mental illness in an effort to eliminate the discrimination associated with it. For more information, visit ozarkcenter.com or call 417.347.7600.
About Freeman Health System
Not-for-profit, community-owned, and locally governed, Freeman Health System is a 404-bed, three-hospital system. Based in Joplin, the fourth largest metropolitan area in Missouri, Freeman provides comprehensive healthcare and behavioral health services to an area that includes more than 450,000 residents from Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. For more information, visit freemanhealth.com or facebook.com/freemanhealthsystem.

For media inquiries, please contact Freeman Media Coordinator.