MSUToday – Featured stories Michigan State University will launch the second branch of an educational programdesigned to help young children with autism spectrum disorder.
The Early Learning Institute will open its second location in late August and plans to serve eight children ages 2-5 with ASD, along with their families. The new branch will be at the Grand River Elementary School Head Start program in Lansing
The new branch will provide care in addition to the to the eight children and families currently working with the original institute, in the Child Development Laboratories Central School near MSU’s East Lansing campus. The second branch of the institute will continue to reflect the values and the programming, which features one-on-one training sessions and classroom experiences with peers.
It’s an approach that’s working, according to Joshua Plavnick, executive director of the institute and associate professor of special education.
“Based on our behavioral observation data, we have seen great improvement in children,” he said. “They talk more, interact more with others and are able to complete many more tasks independently than compared to the beginning of the year.
Plavnick and others at the institute are pursuing other possible locations through MSU Extension programs and public school districts.
“I believe we are just starting to make a community impact, as local school districts have been in contact with us about collaborating on an expansion of the ELI model to support ASD programming in school settings,” Plavnick said. “We have also gotten excellent feedback from families and community partners about the quality of our program. The goal is for community impact to be an area that grows substantially in the coming year.”
Both locations are looking to hire behavior technicians (bachelor’s level) and behavior analysts (master’s level). More information about the program and the positions can be found at earlylearning.msu.edu.