UIC opens second autism resource center

Autism Resource Center

At the center’s opening May 31, L-R: Maureen Meehan, director of Community Literacy Programs, UIC Center for Literacy; Evelyn Diaz, commissioner, Chicago Family and Support Services; Karen Foley, president, Hope Institute. Photo: Robert Schroeder (click on image for larger file size)

UIC opened a second resource center for parents and teachers of children with autism or developmental delays, this one in the Bronzeville neighborhood.

The Resource Center for Autism & Developmental Delays, located in the King Community Service Center at 4314 S. Cottage Grove Ave., joins a similar center in Garfield Park.

One in every 88 children have autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control — a 78 percent increase in diagnoses since 2007. The number of diagnoses have increased 110 percent among Latino children and 91 percent among black children.

“Parents often don’t know where to turn when first learning their child has autism spectrum disorder. It is a real challenge for parents with limited resources,” said Maureen Meehan, director of community literacy programs at UIC.

“The needs go far beyond the individual child and family. They affect education, health care and the broader community.”

UIC’s resource centers encourage early intervention through an extensive lending library of books, software, games, home teaching kits and visual supports available free to the public. Resources and materials are based on current research and best practices.

Staff members offer individual consultations and training programs to teach patrons to use the center’s technology and adapt materials for use in classrooms and homes.

The Garfield Park center, which opened in 2010 in the Garfield Community Services Center, 10 S. Kedzie Ave., has served nearly 8,000 patrons through bilingual training in understanding autism and dealing with it in homes and schools.

The Center for Literacy in the College of Education staffs, programs and manages the resource centers in partnership with the Hope Institute for Children and Families and the Autism Program of Illinois.

The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services provides funding and a connection to Chicago’s Head Start community.

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