MSSU working on a new program focusing on autism

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JOPLIN, Mo. — Missouri Southern is building a new program focused on helping kids with autism – an idea boosted by hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state.

It’s a new focus on applied behavior analysis, or ABA, therapy.

It’s focused on helping kids with autism, something that will soon happen on campus.

Lorinda Hackett, MSSU Education Department, said, “Many of our surrounding universities have a masters program, but no one really has the baccalaureate degree which is going to be critical.”

Something Missouri Southern State University is now working toward.

The School of Education is starting to build a list of six courses in Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, Therapy.

And $240,000 from the state will remodel space in Taylor Hall to serve as a clinic.

Dr. Holly Hackett, MSSU Psychology Department Chair, said, “We’re planning on from zero to 21 the clients that can come to the clinic, a place for them to get services and our students to get the practicum hours they need.”

Training future therapists and filling a need in the area.

“There’s a variety of clinics in the area, but they don’t meet the demand for individuals on the autism spectrum, it’s just we can’t, no one can keep up,” said Lorinda.

The long term goal is to create the Center for Excellence for ABA putting it all under one umbrella.

“Where parents can come for information where we can build partnerships with other organizations in the community that work with folks on the autism spectrum.”

MSSU launched the first ABA class this fall, and will another to the list in the Spring.

Remodeling to create the clinic is expected to start this Summer, after the governor officially signs off on the grant funding.

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