University Autism Center putting on finishing touches - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

University Autism Center putting on finishing touches

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By Stephanie Byars - bio | email

CAPE GIRARDEAU (KFVS) - The latest statistics show that autism affects one in 100 kids in the United States.  With that comes a greater need for diagnosis and treatment.  That need is being met in the Heartland. 

Crews are putting the final touches on the new Southeast Missouri State University Autism Center.  Everything about the 11,500 square foot building is designed to provide the kind of help families need, a lot closer to home.

The university says this will be the fourth Missouri Autism Center.  It's the first in Southeast Missouri.  "I really think it's the result of a lot of advocacy from parents who saw the need," said the center's director, Connie Hebert. 

"Prior to this parents had to drive two hours or more in order to get quality diagnostics for their child." 

Hebert says center combines the university, Taylor Institute and Touchpoint Autism Services, all under one roof making for better diagnosis and treatment.

The building includes therapy rooms with observation areas, sensory rooms, and even a life skills center. 

"We can do life skills training even for young kids to help around the house but especially for young adults and adolescents to do some independent living things" said Hebert.

University project manager Lisa Howe says it goes all the way down to the paint on the walls. 

"More neutral colors, not a lot of patterns..from the very beginning we though of every aspects of building design" Howe said.

That's because things like colors, patters, and sound can be very distracting for those with autism.  

"A client may focus on that and not be able to accept treatment," Howe said. 

So throughout the building you'll find soft colors, soft lighting, even a quite heating and cooling system.

Hebert says from end to end, this building will change autism care in Southeast Missouri. 

"It is awesome to walk through this and see the progress all the time, it's that final step, it's exciting to see it all coming together," Hebert said.

The University Autism Center expects to be up and running by January 4th.  They are already accepting diagnostic appointments.  If you'd like to find out more, you can call 573-986-4985.

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