Joining in the ribbon-cutting at the new home of the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities are, from left: Assemblyman Bob Reilly, Department of Psychology Chair Eldegard Wulfert, graduate students Lindsay Washington and Susan Milnes, center director Kristin Christodulu, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Joan Wick-Pelletier, and Officer in Charge Susan Herbst.
ALBANY, N.Y. (February 1, 2007) - The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University at Albany hosted an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony today at its new location. The new Center, the only one of its kind in New York State, is better equipped to serve Capital Region families with autism spectrum disorders.
The new 4,000-square foot facility, located at 1535 Western Ave., boasts three times more space than the Center's previous location in the Social Science building.
"The new location is easily accessible for the many parents and children who utilize our programs," said Director Kristin Christodulu. "In addition, there is more office space to accommodate our growing staff, a large conference room to conduct our seminars and workshops and ample space for our ongoing research, offering us ample resources to continue to develop services for families and professionals in New York State who live or work with someone with autism."
"Autism affects many families across the state today," said Provost and Officer in Charge Susan Herbst. "I am pleased to congratulate the CARD staff on the opening of the new facility and applaud their continued commitment to helping the community face this issue."
The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities is affiliated with the clinical section of the University's Department of Psychology.
"We are pleased to be able to serve children with autism and their parents in this Center while helping to engage tomorrow's clinical psychologists in the latest research in the field of autism," said Joan Wick-Pelletier, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University at Albany was created in response to a statewide and national plea from school districts concerned with the remarkable increase in children diagnosed with autism. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found prevalence rates for autism spectrum disorders between 2 and 6 per 1,000 individuals. Therefore, it can be summarized that between 1 in 500 (2/1,000) and 1 in 166 children (6/1,000) have an autism spectrum disorder.
While it is clear that more children than ever before are being classified as having an autism spectrum disorder, it is unclear how much of this increase is due to changes in how we identify and classify autism spectrum disorders, or whether this is due to a true increase in prevalence. However, using current standards, autism spectrum disorders are the second most common serious developmental disability after mental retardation/ intellectual impairment.
The drastic increase in the prevalence of the autism classification presents a major challenge to special education service systems. A pioneering approach to serve the needs of children with autism, their parents, and school professionals, the Regional Center for Autism provides a comprehensive means to deliver a variety of specialized services. Through this initiative, high quality, cost-effective services are provided by professionals with an expertise in the area of autism and related disabilities. Over the past 4 ½ years, the Center for Autism has provided training at no cost to thousands across the Capital Region saving school districts millions of dollars.
The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) at the University at Albany is a university-affiliated resource center that brings research and practice together in community settings. CARD Albany provides evidence-based training and support to families and professionals and through ongoing research contributes knowledge to the field of autism spectrum disorders.