January 23, 2013

Maggie Bailey

Autism Speaks Awards Grant to SLU's Connections Program

The funds will allow the program to purchase more equipment to aid students with developmental disabilities who have an autism spectrum diagnosis.

Autism Speaks logoThe Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at Doisy College of Health Sciences has received a $5,000 Family Services Chapter Grant from the Autism Speaks St. Louis Chapter.

The grant will fund much needed equipment for Saint Louis University's Connections Program, which provides challenging, focused experience for students with developmental disabilities who have an autism spectrum diagnosis. Students of all ages learn a range of social skills while participating in developmental and sensory based activities with social strategies. The program is run by the OSOT Faculty Practice.

The grant will provide for larger equipment pieces with higher weight limits that allow for more than one child to have access and new sensory equipment that encourages interaction between students. This is the second grant awarded to the Connections Program from Autism Speaks; the first was a $1,000 scholarship grant from the Autism Speaks Baker Summer Camp program.

About the Connections Program:

The Connections Program was established in 2007 by the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Faculty Practice to help teens and children with Asperger syndrome in the development of social participation, self-advocacy and communications skills. The program runs year-round and is divided into four age-related sections: kids, tween, teen and the newest addition, college, which provides services to current Saint Louis University students. Visit the program's website for more information on the Connections Program.

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism, a disorder of brain development, which is characterized in varying degrees by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. About 1 in 88 American children have a form of autism, according to statistics from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism affects more children than the combined number of cases of diabetes, AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or Down's syndrome.

The mission of Autism Speaks is to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders. Autism Speaks is dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. For more about Autism Speaks, visit www.autismspeaks.org.

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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