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Monday, November 02, 2015 - State awards Oakland with $380K grant for autism spectrum studies, services


OU ABA Clinic staff member Liz Elias works with a young student.
Oakland University has received a $380,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) as part of a statewide effort to better treat and understand autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This is the third year that Oakland has received funding to further research and supports for this population.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ASD is the fastest growing developmental disability in the country, with approximately one in 68 children diagnosed nationwide. During the 2014-15 school year, the Michigan Department of Education reported 17,986 children with ASD in special education statewide – the annual growth rate has been 7 to 8 percent in the last five years.

The state health department’s University Autism Initiative aims to increase the number of applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapists, diagnostic and treatment centers, employment placement programs, and ASD clinical trainings for primary care providers in the state at select universities across Michigan.

Jon Margerum-Leys, dean of Oakland’s School of Education and Human Services said, “We’re proud of the services that the ABA Clinic is able to provide to our community and are grateful to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for its support.”

Oakland is one of six universities throughout the state to receive funding through the initiative. Other schools include Central Michigan University; Michigan State University; Western Michigan University; Wayne State University and University of Michigan – Dearborn.

Oakland University will address five areas with the state grant, including:

  • Increasing the number of students seeking a master’s degree in ABA;
  • Increasing the number of board certified assistant behavior analysts;
  • Increasing the number of registered behavior technicians;
  • Expanding the number of children receiving ABA within the Medicaid system and
  • Providing opportunities for individuals ages 16 and older with ASD to obtain paid employment.

Dr. Jessica Korneder, (BCBA-D), the principal investigator for the grant, will be working closely with Kristin Rohrbeck, director of OUCARES, the outreach services division of the Oakland University Center for Autism, and Associate Professor of Special Education Jan Graetz, Ph.D., to address the project goals.

“We are extremely pleased to have this opportunity to continue our efforts in the field of autism spectrum disorder. With this funding, we will be able to continue projects that align research with outreach service,” said Graetz, who is also special education coordinator at OU.

“Our overall mission is to promote the quality of life of individuals and families with an autism spectrum disorder. We are thankful for this opportunity to continue our efforts.”

The funding initiative will expand the reach of services to additional families from the implementation of both the ASD Insurance Reform and Medicaid service expansion of ABA in Michigan, state officials said.

For more information about Oakland University’s ASD programs and services, visit oakland.edu/oucares.