STAATSBURG – Executives from Anderson Center for Autism (Anderson) and SUNY Empire State College have launched plans for a comprehensive training and consultation program that will lead to SUNY Empire’s designation as a first-of-its-kind Autism Supportive College.
The initiative, which will take several months to complete, will include Anderson’s facilitation of group training programs for SUNY Empire State College faculty and staff, as well as general consulting for the purposes of organizational development. The goal is to ensure that SUNY Empire State College employees have the breadth and depth of knowledge needed to implement all possible measures that can promote success for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The news follows the official opening of SUNY Empire State College’s Center for Autism Inclusivity. While the immediate objectives of that initial cooperative effort between Anderson and SUNY Empire were to expand professional opportunities for those entering the field of autism to meet growing workforce needs, the recent announcement is focused on ensuring that the college is equipped to better accommodate the needs of students with autism.
Patrick Paul, the CEO and Executive Director at Anderson Center for Autism and graduate of SUNY Empire State College, said “I think it’s become increasingly clear that all sectors must find ways to become more inclusive. For colleges and universities like SUNY Empire State College, the opportunity is three-fold – they can provide the kind of educational path that can help build out our workforce in this space, ensure that teachers, staff, and peer groups understand how to be as supportive as possible to students with autism, and pursue research that will help inform and inspire other individuals, communities, and organizations going forward.” The CEO added, “Anderson Consulting is thrilled to be working with the visionary team at SUNY Empire; we hope that this initiative will prompt other colleges to follow suit.”
Kathleen Marshall, Director of Program Services at Anderson said “In addition to providing training to their employees, our team at Anderson will be consulting with them on how to make their operations more autism-friendly. For example, their website is currently a bit complicated visually, and we feel that perhaps they’re losing prospective students who have neuro diversities – whether it’s autism or something else – because of the complex nature of how the website looks right now.”
According to the leadership team at SUNY Empire State, the collaboration between Anderson Center for Autism and the higher ed institution is a natural fit.
SUNY Empire State College officer in charge, Nathan Gonyea, PhD, said “We developed SUNY Empire State College to help educate the many who weren’t well-served by the traditional models of higher ed, so this effort to become autism-supportive is really the next logical step for us.”
In a joint statement, Gonyea and Paul both noted that “People with Autism, as well as professionals and employers – statewide, nationally, and across the globe – will benefit from this program.” Said Gonyea, “We can use our statewide footprint to do some really good work, and keep it growing so that we become a resource for people from other parts of the country and the world.”
Anderson Center for Autism’s Consulting team will roll out the training for SUNY Empire State College in 2021.
Anderson and SUNY Empire are also developing a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program that will prepare graduates to become NYS licensed behavior analysts and board-certified behavior analysts. This program is currently under SUNY and New York State Education Department (NYSED) review. Pending SUNY and NYSED approval, the anticipated launch date is September 2021.
For more information on Anderson’s Consulting services, contact: Lisa Susczynski, Consultation Administrator, at LSusczynski@AndersonCares.org or by calling 845.889.9616.