Campus: Sonoma State University -- May 4, 2005

SSU Professor has Grant to Study Autism in North Bay

SSU psychology professor Lorna Catford has been been awarded $70,000 of a $80,000-plus grant from the California State Department of Developmental Services for a Collaborative Autism Training and Service project in the North Bay.

Catford will identify the service and training needs of families of local children diagnosed on the autism spectrum in a partnership with the North Bay Regional Center, Sonoma County Office of Education and several other local agencies.

She will also design courses for SSU students and professionals which draw on existing autism research and practice, as well as input from parents of children with autism diagnoses, and arrange guest lectures by community experts in the field.

SSU students will have a civic engagement component - working with the children and their families. Parents who participate in the program will be invited to the lecture series.

Catford says that 20% of children in pre-school special education programs in Sonoma County have autism as their primary diagnosis. Local agencies report that 55% of intakes to California Regional Centers - the main state agencies that provide services to people with developmental disabilities, including those with autism - now have a diagnosis of full spectrum autism. Autism rates in the U.S. have risen sharply according to reports in the media in the past few months.

Contact: Jean Wasp, Media Relations Coordinator, (707) 664-2057


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