The WMU Department of Psychology is making headway in the field of autism research, and also helping people with autism get better treatment for less. Dr. Wayne Fuqua, chair of the Department of Psychology, was one researcher invited to attend the autism bill signing that took place in Lansing on April 18 at Governor Rick Snyder’s Lansing residence. The bill requires insurance companies to pay for autism spectrum disorder diagnosis and treatment for children up to age 18.
Alongside Dr. Fuqua at the signing was Ph.D. student Brighid Fronapfel, who recently became a board-certified behavior analyst. Kate Ladonde, Katie Kestner and Shawn P. Quigley from the graduate program also attended and watched Lt. Gov. Brian Calley sign the bill into law.
The day after the autism bill was approved, the WMU Board of Trustees approved Autism Specialization for students pursuing a master’s degree in special education. According to MLive, The new specialization will consist of 36 credit hours of course work related to the teaching of autistic children. The program, said Fuqua, should kick-start once renovations for The Great Lakes Center for Autism Treatment and Research are completed in July.
According to Scott Schrum, the CEO of Residential Opportunities Incorporated, or ROI, WMU and the Great Lakes Center for Autism Treatment and Research will collaborate. “We also want to have an opportunity to be able to offer their faculty and their doctoral students opportunities for research to help advance the fields of autism. We expect to be a center of excellence through our collaboration with WMU,” he said.
WMU continues to be rich in community resources and with the addition of more research and support in the field of autism, the goal is to learn about the effects of autism and how to implement treatment methods to ensure a higher quality of life for everyone.