Texas Tech's Autism Center Preparing for Autism Awareness Month

Web database of resources set to launch in April.

April is Autism Awareness Month and one Texas Tech University expert is not only creating awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but she has also created a Web database of information and services accessible to people with autism and their families.

The Web site will launch at the beginning of April, just in time to kick off Autism Awareness Month.

Robin Lock is the director of Texas Tech’s Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research Center. She and her team are dedicated to making reliable information about ASD services readily available to those who need them. They have received funding for the project from the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, Texas Council for Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders and the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS).

"We are concerned that people do not know where to look for information about Autism and sometimes receive misleading information about institutions that offer services for people with ASD," Lock said. "There are more than 1,200 services identified on the database so far. This is a really good start."

Also in the planning stages: the Burkhart Center is building a life-skills program to help adults at the highest functioning end of the autism spectrum become more self-sufficient members of society who can function in a vocational setting.

"We are looking at a twofold approach," Lock said. "We are going to train employers so they’ll know how to work with these people and recognize their characteristics and needs. Then we will provide them with some hands-on material and a support system where they can call and have advice coming from the Burkhart Center.

Simultaneously, at the Burkhart center, students with autism will complete three semesters of job training and social skills classes to prepare them for the workforce. The first semester encompasses classroom learning, the second provides three months of training on the job, and the third semester focuses on social skills training – one of the hardest objectives for people with autism to conquer.

"What we find with people with autism is that it is not performing the tasks of the job that gets them," Lock said. "It is the social part of the job. They don’t understand that there is a mechanism for how to go to someone and express their needs. That is what we’re working toward improving, and that is why we have faith that this program will generate positive results."


CONTACT: Robin Lock, director, Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research, at (806) 742-1997 ext. 288 or via e-mail at robin.lock@ttu.edu.