Local autism program trains health care workers, educators

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COLUMBIA - A local training program specializing in autism has announced it has trained 1,731 professionals in health care, education, and other areas of work throughout the state of Missouri since last July.

Training Experts in Autism for Missouri, also known as TEAM, is a free service provided by the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Missouri.

TEAM's goal is to meet the needs of families of individuals that have been affected with disabilities in the mid-Missouri area and to be a national and international leader of research in the autism field.

The program emphasizes family-centered care which supports families from the first meeting and involves routine follow-up appointments to try to make sure each child and family has the best-case scenario ahead of them.

The program is under the direction of Drs. Jena Randolph and Karen O'Connor. The two are assistant professors at the Thompson Center.

"The original vision for this program was not just to provide professional development in a one-stop workshop," O'Connor said. "Our vision was not just to provide that one workshop, but to provide ongoing support."

TEAM has worked with exactly half of the counties in the state of Missouri, meaning they have 57 more counties to go.

"I think a goal of ours is to make sure that we reach the remaining counties in the state of Missouri," Randolph said. "We want to make sure that we are helping everyone, even in the more rural areas, and the more populated areas, too."

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