April 10, 2015
Burkhart Center for Autism Research
April is Autism Awareness Month, and Texas Tech University's Burkhart Center for Autism Education & Research is celebrating with a number of fundraisers and community events.
Three local restaurants are donating a portion of their proceeds to the Burkhart Center. Papa John's will sponsor a day on April 14, Capital Pizza will sponsor from 6-10 p.m. April 21, and the Chick-fil-A in the South Plains Mall will sponsor April 23. Also on April 23, Burkhart's Transition Academy students will host a fashion show at 7 p.m. outside the Women's Dillard's in the South Plains Mall.
The annual Burkhart Walk for Autism Awareness will take place from 2-4 p.m. April 26 at the John Walker Soccer Complex at 10th Street and Texas Tech Parkway.
“Autism Awareness Month is a meaningful time for the Burkhart Center, not only because of its celebration of people living with or affected by autism, but also the supplementation of our yearly programming with both special events and increased community involvement,” Transition Academy teacher Tawny Mills said.
The Burkhart Center, which celebrated its first year in a new building in November, cut the ribbon earlier this year for a new Quiznos restaurant staffed by students of the Transition Academy. The academy, which is the center's flagship program, has about a dozen area students learning life and job skills.
Our intent is not only to assist people with autism through transition instruction and research to become more independent and assimilate into the community, but also to better shape and mold the community's attitude toward autism in order to bolster understanding and acceptance of people on the autism spectrum,” Mills said. “It often goes unnoticed that people with autism can be talented and friendly. Increased awareness means greater acceptance, and reciprocal acceptance of people on the spectrum is truly a mark of success.
The Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research is part of the College of Education and is the premier center in Lubbock for research, education and assistance for families affected by autism.
Research at the center covers three major aspects: developing strategies for the preparation of teachers to meet the needs of students, examining ways to develop parent support networks and preparing individuals with autism as they transition from school to adult services.
The Transition Academy, the center’s flagship program, is home to about 15 teenagers and young adults who have an autism spectrum disorder. They come to campus Monday through Friday to learn job and life skills, including how to live independently, and many have jobs through partnerships with campus and community organization.
The Burkhart Center is named for Jim and Jere Lynn Burkhart in honor of their grandson Collin.