Chapman University is a partner in a new research center that will study and treat autism, as well as provide advocacy to families and schools working to meet students’ classroom needs.
As part of the
Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders of Southern California
, Chapman’s College of Educational Studies will collaborate with UC Irvine on the project, funded by a first-of-its kind public/private partnership between the
William & Nancy Thompson Family Foundation
Children and Families Commission of Orange County
. The two organizations are providing $14.8 million for the creation of the center, $800,000 of which will go to Chapman for the creation of programs aimed at easing interactions between families and schools.
Chapman’s programs will be two-pronged and focused on smoothing family and school relations, says Don Cardinal, Ph.D., dean of the College of Educational Studies. The first is the Family-Schools Intervention Team (FIT). FIT will consist of highly trained professionals specifically designated to meet the needs of the child and family and will serve in an ombudsperson role.
To support schools in this process, a second group was created, the Chapman Ability Project (CAP). CAP will focus on high-level educational workshops, lectures, and certificate programs designed to increase the knowledge and practice of those educators already in the work force, eventually even offering school-site training.
Chapman scholars are excited to help negotiate the challenges that can arise between schools and families as they plan programs for students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, says Cardinal.
“The goal is to increase the overall autism literacy of families and professionals in Orange County and beyond. We are learning new things daily and CAP can be an important vehicle to get this information out to those who can use it most,” Cardinal says.
The medical research and treatments activities of the new center will be housed at UC Irvine and led by Dr. Joseph Donnelly, a pediatric neurologist at UC Irvine and CHOC Children’s and director of For OC Kids Neurodevelopmental Center.