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Anderson Center for Autism Launches ECHO Program

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December 21,2022

Anderson Center for Autism has announced that it has launched ECHO Autism Best Practices. The case-based learning program, affiliated with the University of Missouri, is one of 44 such programs throughout the country.

Anderson’s initiative is designed to provide school personnel from all over New York State (and anywhere throughout the country and world) with an opportunity to connect and learn from experts in the autism field. The collaborative professional development experience, conducted virtually, is led by a team of experts called a HUB. Using specific case studies, HUB experts facilitate discussion to shed light on the tools and strategies that are most effective in promoting success for students with autism.

Patrick Paul, CEO/Executive Director of Anderson Center for Autism, said “ECHO Autism Best Practices gives Anderson Center for Autism a platform to empower school faculty and staff with the kind of knowledge that will make them better equipped to support and educate students with autism. And the experience likewise supports continued professional development for our team members as they learn from session participants. Ultimately, the program is another way we can carry out our mission of optimizing the quality of life for people with autism, which is at the heart of everything we do here at Anderson.”

The Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO®) was first developed at the University of New Mexico, when Dr. Sanjeev Arora created a learning model based on the belief that access to information would lead to greater community impact across a number of disciplines. One specialist, for example, can support the professional development of twenty or more local experts, who then bring newfound knowledge and practices to people who might benefit.

Paul explained, “If a school cannot afford to hire someone who specializes in evidence-based best practices in teaching and managing behavior across disciplines (an example would be Applied Behavior Analysis or ABA), then therapists and teachers from that school can attend a session on this topic and gain an understanding of how to bring some of the principles of that methodology to students who might benefit. Technology makes information sharing so easy - and we want to harness the power of virtual programming to ensure we’re doing all we can for professionals and for the people with autism who benefit from this knowledge.”

Dr. Tina Covington, PhD., BCBA-D, LBA, Chief Operating Officer at Anderson Center for Autism, said “ECHO is a way for us to enhance what is already happening in our own communities, and to help bridge gaps for people who live in areas where resources and access to expertise are more limited. The HUB team is comprised of up to 10 specialists; included are a Licensed Psychologist/ behavior analyst, a Speech and Language Pathologist with an expertise in feeding; a licensed clinical social worker, and other top-notch, highly qualified individuals who have very specific experiences that are shared. In the sessions, the HUB team reviews case studies presented virtually by school personnel from the community, and answers questions in real-time for session participants who want and need to better understand best practices.

“And, likewise, as our HUB team makes presentations and sparks dialogue, they, too, will be able to learn from those who participate in the conversations that take shape. Dr. Arora’s model is considered ‘all teach, all learn’; this is how we maximize potential for success - by sharing ideas and intelligence.”

Tracy Schober, MPA, Senior Admissions Administrator at Anderson, said “The opportunity for case presentation by a representative or educational professional illustrates our commitment to increasing the capacity of school personnel, providing them with the tools needed to better support their autistic students.”

Upcoming Anderson Center for Autism ECHO Autism Best Practices sessions include January 19 - Functional Communication Strategies and February 16 - Intro to District Compliant Behavior Support Plans.

The program is funded by a grant from Anderson Foundation for Autism.

Eliza Bozenski, Chief Development Officer at Anderson, said “This is another way Anderson Center for Autism can expand impact; we see this as yet another way to help our broader society make greater strides when it comes to autism care, programming and education.”