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UTSA Teacher Education Autism Model Center hosts open house on Autism Awareness Day April 2

by Marissa Villa and Jesus Chavez, University Communications    |    March 31, 2015

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To commemorate National Autism Awareness Day, the Teacher Education: Autism Model (TEAM) Center in the UTSA College of Education and Human Development will hold an open house from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 2 located at the TEAM Center in the Durango Building (DB 0.220) at the UTSA Downtown Campus.

The free, public event will showcase video game simulators and robotic intervention as well as other research conducted at UTSA to intervene on the challenging behavior associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The TEAM Center, which opened in January 2013, provides low cost Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) services to children in Bexar County while serving as a teaching laboratory for special education teachers working on their graduate degrees. It is an open clinic that students, families and interested members of the community are encouraged to visit.

Lee Mason, assistant professor of special education in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching, directs the TEAM Center, which is designed to synchronize what UTSA faculty are teaching in their classes.

“The purpose of the open house is to show off the top-tier research coming out of UTSA and promote our graduate and undergraduate training programs in special education,” said Mason.

The TEAM Center uses a variety of state-of-the-art methods advance research in this field. In the past, it has utilized video game simulation technology to train individuals with ASD and their caregivers. It is currently working with UTSA computer science and engineering departments to create a robotics component to that simulation training. The center also relies on toys, murals and learning centers to help its students research behavior in children with autism.

This semester, UTSA students are partnered with children from across Bexar County, allowing for a personalized experience. Each UTSA student works as a lead therapist while being supervised by Mason and Alonzo Andrews, who are both board certified behavior analysts. Andrews serves as specialist for the center.

Children who receive services from the TEAM Center receive a functional behavior assessment and a verbal behavior screening that allows UTSA graduate students to develop plans to meet their individualized needs. Children receive six hours of ABA therapy each week in 90-minute sessions. Children are discharged from the program at the end of each semester after their progress is evaluated.

Special education teachers who want to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts must complete 1,500 hours of field training and pass a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst Exam before they can practice independently.

Mason says that in addition to teaching, the TEAM Center serves the community at a fraction of the cost of what similar services may cost elsewhere.

View the original story on UTSA Today

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