One program in Buffalo is providing autistic children with a chance to gain crucial skills through the help of knowledgable staff. In this edition of Healthy Living, YNN's Jon Dougherty has more on the SchoolMAX Program.
Fifth grade student Richard Dodge is living with autism, along with nearly 1.5 million American according to Center for Disease Control.
"We noticed he was very bright but he wouldn't sit still, a little bit different than the rest of the kids, playing differently than the other kids would play," said Tammy Dodge, Richard's mother.
She said although it's not a severe case, her son still has trouble doing normal things.
"Simple things like making eye contact and engaging in conversation," noted Dodge.
After some research and attending parent's groups, Dodge was introduced to the Institute of Autism Research at Canisius College in Buffalo. The department offers treatment and research for those living with autism.
"As smart as any of them can be, they don't know what to do. What we do in our programs is work through direct instruction, teach them the skills, and then give them opportunities to practice," explained Dr. Marcus Thomeer, co-director at the Institute for Autism Research Co-Director.
The Institute for Autism Research has been conducting studies at Canisius College for eleven years and has been recognized both nationally and internationally. It most recently received a large grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
The 3.4 million dollar research grant will help fund the institution's SchoolMAX program. It helps elementary school students with autism. The program is a continuation of SummerMAX, a similar program structured like a summer camp that helps students gain social skills.
According to directors, the results have proven to be very successful.
"What we're doing makes a difference. When you compare kids who get the treatment to those who don't, the kids who got the treatment did significantly better," noted Thomeer.
The staff is made up of mostly graduate and undergraduate students.
"Our goal is to provide great treatment and research findings that move the field forward but also to generate the next generation of researchers," added Dr. Christopher Lopata, co-director at the Institute for Autism Research Co-Director.