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2011 News Releases

Longwood’s LCCLL supports National Autism Awareness Month

April 1, 2011

Longwood Center for Communication, Literacy, and Learning (LCCLL) Logo

Longwood's Center for Communication, Literacy and Learning (LCCLL) supports the observance of April as National Autism Awareness Month. This recognition was established in the 1970s to highlight the growing need for concern and awareness about autism. April presents a special opportunity to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community. With one in 110 Americans now being diagnosed, the need for services and supports are greater than ever.

"As increasing numbers of children are being identified with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), critical responsibilities are placed on the professionals who support these individuals as they progress through their K-12 education and into other areas of life," said Dr. Rachel Mathews, professor of special education at Longwood University. "To assist these professionals, Longwood is offering a graduate certificate program in ASD to provide educators and related professionals with information to understand the learning differences of students on the autism spectrum, to recognize their strengths, and to support their unique educational and behavioral needs in all school environments using evidence-based practices."

The certificate program in Autism Spectrum Disorders is open to educators, paraprofessionals, or parents who have an interest in the content area being pursued. Individuals not pursuing a certificate may enroll in any course with the instructor's approval.

The LCCLL provides services to children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.  These services are designed to support the learning of appropriate play, interaction, and social communication skills while at the same time assisting children to develop more effective receptive and expressive language skills.

Dr. Peggy Agee, assistant professor and coordinator of the undergraduate program in communication sciences and disorders, said, "Direct intervention on social communication skills can have a very pronounced impact on the communication development of children with autism spectrum disorders, assisting children to interact more appropriately with family members and peers and to develop the language skills which support that interaction."

Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disability that typically appears during the first two years of life and affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a "spectrum disorder" that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today. For more information about autism, visit www.autism-society.org.

Established in 2006, the LCCLL is an interdisciplinary center that offers speech and language services, tutoring, and classes in parenting skills. For more information about services related to autism spectrum disorder, contact Peggy Agee at ageepc@longwood.edu or call the LCCLL at 395.2972. For information about the graduate certificate program in autism spectrum disorders, visit www.longwood.edu/education/11210.htm or contact Rachel Mathews at mathewsr@longwood.edu or 395.2532.