Fresno State and the Valley Children’s Hospital are joining together to create a satellite center to battle autism at the Madera County Hospital scheduled to open this summer.
The new center will be a division of the Autism Center at Fresno State and will aim to provide early intervention services for Central Valley children.
“We are two organizations solely focused on the well-being of young people, and it’s time for us to come together to address the growing number of children diagnosed with autism,” said Todd Suntrapak, Valley Children’s president and CEO. “We are united in fighting for their futures. We want these children to lead as productive and happy lives as possible, despite the challenges autism presents.”
“Valley Children’s represents the first partnership of a new direction for the Autism Center at Fresno State under the Behavioral Sciences Institute,” said Tim Yeager, executive director of the Behavioral Sciences Institute that operates the Fresno State Autism Center. “We seek to be a resource to the community by partnering with organizations in the Central Valley that are providing related services.”
Yeager said the partnership developed when Valley Children’s reached out to the university program last year for help improving early intervention services.
The new Autism Center will provide two rooms for early behavior intervention along with two office spaces for management staff to the Fresno State program at no cost.
Since opening in 2007, the Autism Center at Fresno State has used a lab facility on campus through the Applied Behavior Analysis Program in the psychology department. Over 300 undergraduate and graduate students have received training at the Autism Center.
The center has served more than 80 children and currently provides early intervention services to 36 children, ages 18 months to six years of age, for 15-35 hours a week.
Workshops and informational training about autism will be provided to medical professionals to provide information at the new center. Yeager said that this would lay the first stone for new faculty research opportunities.
Marianne Jackson, the director of research for the Behavioral Sciences Institute, said that the new satellite center would be a great additional facility that will benefit the community.
“The new satellite center is a great opportunity to partner with another community leader who is invested in the welfare of children in the Central Valley,” Jackson said. “It allows us to reach more families, collaborate on autism awareness and outreach and provide high-quality services to more children with or at risk of a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.”
The Autism Center at Fresno State will also be hosting it’s first “Fun and Run” on campus on April 25.