31 January 2017
The number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, in the United States has grown from 1 in 150 to 1 in 68 over the last decade. Yet services to these children remain fragmented, and not nearly enough teachers are qualified to work with children with ASD.
 
The Curry School prepares professionals to serve people with ASD in four key areas—special education, speech communication disorders, clinical psychology and kinesiology (the science of human movement); in addition, at least 36 other faculty members across UVA are working on autism-related projects.
 
The Curry School envisions combining all of these resources to position UVA as a national leader in autism research, coordinated care, and teacher and clinical professional training. Curry will leverage its existing relationships with schools, its education and clinical expertise, and its experience with field-based and applied research to develop a comprehensive, community-focused autism center.
 
With the capacity to facilitate external partnerships, both regionally and nationally, the center will also make the most of research and treatment breakthroughs. Then the University will be poised to develop national models of care while providing the highest level of resources to Virginia families.
 
The first phase of the Curry School’s vision includes a three-year plan to strengthen its internal foundation. This phase will be anchored by several new hires, many of whom will need to be supported by donor funding: a multidisciplinary autism researcher who will work across UVA units, an executive director for the Sheila C. Johnson Center for Human Services and two clinical faculty members; another three postdocs will supervise Curry students.
 
Phases two and three will strengthen the Curry School’s research faculty and training programs, as well as its ability to serve as a national model to communities across the country.
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