Funds Will Allow University to Offer Autism Services in Indian River County
MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Institute of Technology has been named a 2014 Impact 100 Community Partner by Vero Beach-based Indian River Impact 100 and awarded a $100,000 grant it will use to offer early diagnostic services and ongoing intervention for autism and related disorders in Indian River County.
Scheduled to launch July 2014 under the auspices of Florida Tech’s acclaimed Scott Center for Autism Treatment, the Vero Beach center will offer new and critically-needed resources and services to Indian River County, which currently lacks such offerings. The new center will seek to help mitigate the effects of autism on children and caregivers; offer nationally-recognized, state-of-the art, evidence-based therapy; broaden community understanding about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD); and offer a formal network of peer and other support for families whose children are affected by ASD.
Services will also include assessment and treatment of problem behaviors, pediatric feeding problems, toilet training, and other behavioral issues that are often experienced by children with autism and related disabilities.
“All too often, parents are faced with knowing that something is wrong with their child but not knowing what it is or what to do about it,” said Scott Center Executive Director Michael Kelley. “In the first 3-6 months of our Vero Beach center, we intend to focus on identifying potential families with needs and conducting diagnostic clinics. Then, as we continue with the diagnostic clinics, we will also start establishing intervention clinics.”
The positive impact of early diagnostic services and ongoing intervention for children with ASD is clear. Children who are diagnosed with autism or a related disorder who get the recommended therapy have a 50 percent chance of being indistinguishable from their same-aged peers by age 6. Conversely, children who are diagnosed with autism or a related disorder who do not get the recommended therapy have a 1 percent chance of being indistinguishable from their same-aged peers by age 6.
“This is a significant addition to Florida Tech’s service to Indian River County residents,” university President and CEO Anthony Catanese said. “The Scott Center’s services are a unique contribution that FIT brings to Vero Beach, and we are grateful to partner with Impact 100 to make it possible.”
The new center adds to Florida Tech’s presence in Vero Beach. The university operates the Vero Beach Marine Laboratory on four oceanfront acres north of Jaycee Park that is home to a laboratory building, classrooms, aquaculture tanks and several greenhouses. It also hosts an annual Life Long Learning program for Indian River County residents.
Indian River Impact 100 is an organization of women committed to improving their community by providing “transformational and sustainable” grants to non-profit organizations in or serving Indian River County. In addition to Florida Tech, this year’s grant recipients included the Ocean Research & Conservation Association, Indian River Charter High School and the Shining Light Garden Foundation, Inc.
The Scott Center’s Kelley said that the Impact 100 grant was both transformational and timely.
“We frequently heard that our Indian River County neighbors were in need of our services,” he said. “Typically, establishing a new regional clinic would be a slow and progressive process, taking time to build a referral base, clearing insurance panels and establishing a reimbursement schedule. But the funding from Impact 100 was the catalyst to allow an almost immediate start-up, which will soon result in care for Indian River County families who have long-awaited these services.”