Misericordia Establishes Autism Center as Resource for Clinicians, Caregivers


DALLAS, Pa. – The College of Health Sciences at Misericordia University has established the Autism Center as a resource for clinicians, practitioners, caregivers and students majoring in the health and medical sciences fields.

The Autism Center at Misericordia University is the result of an interprofessional collaboration of academic departments that feature programs in medical imaging, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, sonography, speech-language pathology and pre-professional programs like pre-medicine and pre-dentistry. It will also be a community resource, and an educational and research entity.

“We are utilizing our collaborative relationships in the community, and the talent, synergies and expertise available in the College of Health Sciences for the betterment of the autism community,’’ said Leamor Kahanov, Ed.D., dean of the College of Health Sciences. “Our website is a guide to the clinical services available on campus, as well as the educational camps, community resources, current best-practice treatments,  and other related information.’’

Under the umbrella of the Autism Center, the university is home to the Summer Sensory Social Camp, Autism Speaks U and the Distinguished Speakers Series, as well as several faculty members who have expertise caring for people on the autism spectrum.

The Autism Center is housed, along with the Speech-Language and Hearing Center, in John J. Passan Hall and online at www.misericordia.edu/autism. The Speech-Language-Hearing Center is a comprehensive facility that provides diagnostic, and speech, language, and hearing services for children, adolescents, adults and the elderly with communication disorders in the community. Undergraduate and graduate student clinicians working toward their master’s degree in speech-language pathology at Misericordia University provide the services. The clinicians evaluate and treat clients under the direct supervision of faculty and staff certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and licensed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Each faculty member specializes in a different subcategory of speech-language pathology, such as, Asperger’s syndrome, cluttering, autism, stuttering, voice, aphasia, swallowing disorders and others. Since 2004, more than 4,000 children and 1,000 adults have been treated at the center.

Additionally, about 75 Misericordia University students are active in Autism Speaks U, a student-organized club that is part of the national advocacy organization, Autism Speaks. Numerous faculty members also are internationally recognized as experts on autism spectrum disorders. They continue to conduct research and develop new knowledge about autism by engaging students and community partners, while also providing clinical treatments to clients through the Speech-Language-Hearing Center and Summer Sensory Social Camp.

“The Autism Center is a perfect match for our mission at Misericordia, as it coalesces our tenet of service to others with a vital need in the community,’’ said Thomas J. Botzman, Ph.D., president of Misericordia University. “Few people have not been affected by autism. That’s why it is so invigorating to see so many well-intentioned individuals working together for the common good.’’

The Autism Center is also partnering with members of the health care and regional communities who have volunteered to serve on the board of directors. Founding board members include Christa Lese Martin, Ph.D., F.A.C.M.G., director and senior investigator, Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute, Geisinger Health System; Lori Charney, O.T.D., O.T.R./L., assistant professor of occupational therapy, Misericordia University;  Kathleen Scaler Scott, Ph.D., C.C.C.-S.L.P., associate professor of speech-language pathology, Misericordia University, Orely Templeton, O.T.D., O.T.R./L., assistant professor of occupational therapy, Misericordia University; Margaret Neville, Frank Mariano, and Kaitlyn Clarke.

For more information about the Autism Center at Misericordia University, please call (570) 674-6400 or e-mail the center at autism@misericordia.edu.