Misericordia University to Hold Autism Center Grand Opening

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The Autism Center at Misericordia University will hold a Grand Opening celebration on Thursday, Dec. 5 from 5-7 p.m. at 50 Lake St., Dallas Borough. As a regional hub for the Autism Collaborative Centers of Excellence, the Autism Center helps connect people with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families with services and supports in the area.

“The College of Health Sciences and Education at Misericordia University established the Autism Center in 2015 as a community resource for caregivers, clinicians, practitioners and students majoring in the health and medical sciences field, with a focus on interprofessional collaboration in support of the autistic community,” said Kristin Hoffman, M.S., S.E., director of the Autism Center at Misericordia University. “Today, we are proud to say the Autism Center at Misericordia University has developed into a regional hub where families can take part in specialized programming and services tailored to the needs of people of all ages with Autism Spectrum Disorders. We hope everyone will come out to see how we’ve grown and what we have to offer.”

The Autism Center is home to the Autism Lifelong Learning Program, which provides pre-employment and employment services in support of community integration at the post-high school level. The center also offers a Summer Transition Experience for Students with Autism, a four-week class to provide adolescents and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder the skills they need to successfully transition to adulthood and the work environment.

The center holds a Summer Sensory Social Camp and an Autism Distinguished Speaker Series, and collaborates on activities with Cougars for Autism Awareness, a student organization dedicated to spreading awareness and educating others about autism.

New this fall, the Autism Center offers swim lessons and an open swim session for people with autism on Wednesday evenings at Misericordia University’s Anderson Sports and Health Center. In collaboration with Supporting Autism & Families Everywhere, the center also hosts a series of art activities specifically designed for children and adults with autism. The two-hour sessions are on Tuesday evenings, from 6-8 p.m. at the center. The art sessions are free and open to individuals with autism of all ages, along with their parents/caregivers and siblings. No painting or art experience is necessary. Pre-registration is required for the swim and art activities.

The center also recently held a special sensory friendly haircut session in collaboration with FUNctional Connections specifically designed for children with autism.

“By providing a sensory friendly space with trained support personnel for children’s haircuts, we were able to take the difficulty out of something others see as mundane, but families with autism know can be a tremendous challenge,” said Hoffman. “It was a great experience for everyone.”

The Autism Center’s website, www.misericordia.edu/autism, features valuable information on support services in the region and offers links to Misericordia’s speech-language pathology and physical therapy clinics, where faculty have expertise caring for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Misericordia University also offers an Autism Spectrum Disorders Certificate for health care professionals involving a three-course sequence that will prepare students and professionals to work with clients diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. After completing the coursework within this certificate program, students would qualify to sit for the Autism Competency Exam to earn an Autism Certificate or become a Certified Autism Specialist through the International Board of Credentialing and continuing Education Standards (IBCCES).

To register for the Grand Opening or for more information about the Autism Center at Misericordia University, please email autism@misericordia.edu or contact Kristin Hoffman at khoffman@misericordia.edu or 570-674-6197. There is also additional information on the Autism Center’s Facebook page, The Autism Center at Misericordia University.

Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1924, Misericordia University is Luzerne County’s first four-year college and offers 56 academic programs on the graduate and undergraduate levels in full- and part-time formats. Misericordia University ranks in the “National Universities” category of U.S. News and World Report’s 2020 edition of Best Colleges. The Princeton Review recognizes Misericordia as a 2020 “Best Northeastern” college and Money Magazine includes Misericordia in its 2019-20 “Best Colleges” list. College Consensus and the Wall Street Journal and Times Higher Education rank Misericordia among the top colleges and universities nationally.