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Fresno State lends a hand to autism

Fresno State and Valley Children’s Hospital joined forces and open a satellite center July 16 near Madera , providing services for children with autism.

The mission of the center is to become a leader of early intervention through training, research and service. It will help serve children from the ages of 18-month-olds up to 6-year-olds.

“It will be allowing severe children who are in the earlier stages of autism to be treated,” said Marianne Jackson. “The earlier we can identify autism, the earlier we can start treatment and the better the outcome.”

The new center will provide easier access for children in Madera County.

“We’re training students, increasing the amount of services to provide to the community and we are providing a center closer to Madera, which doesn’t have an autism-based center,” said Tim Yeager, executive director of the Behavioral Sciences Institute of the Fresno State Autism Center. “They [Valley Children’s Hospital] were seeing a lot of children and diagnosing them with autism, but weren’t really providing them with the applied paper analysis services for them. So they reached out with us to see if there was a partnership to be had.”

Services being provided at the satellite center will be the same as those being offered at the Fresno State autism center.

Children will learn communication, language, social and behavioral skills. Jackson said the center would be just as hands-on as the center at Fresno State.

“We’ll address language deficits by teaching vocabulary or teaching them to request things and how to label things and how to have a conversation,” Yeager said.

“We’ll also teach them playing skills to improve their quality of life. The big key point is we create an individual plan for every single child. We utilize their strength they already have and address their deficits.”

The satellite center will not only benefit children with autism in Madera County, it will also be beneficial to graduates in the psychology field.

“The center provides job opportunities for graduates which is actually related to their psychology degree which is hard to do with a bachelor’s in psychology,” Jackson said.

Graduate students will be able take on more responsibilities with decision making and designing curriculum for clients.

“For them, they’re gaining a little bit more skills in the process,” Yeager said.