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Department of Education, Southern Miss Gulf Coast Partner on Autism Program PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Contact Charmaine Schmermund, 228.865.4573   
LONG BEACH, Miss. – The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) has entered into a multi-year interagency agreement with The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast to provide a new school-based program for children with autism. The program is receiving $1.3 million in federal funding over three years. 

“The Gulf Coast Autism Project is preparing to offer a multitude of services. The Department of Education is excited about the future of this collaboration,” said Danita Munday, Bureau Director for Autism and Special Education Policy. “The project will assess children on the autism spectrum, provide research-based services to students, train parents and support current and prospective school district personnel.” 

Southern Miss Gulf Coast has been developing an autism project for the past two years and has the capacity in place to continue building a model program to serve the children of Mississippi. Southern Miss submitted a proposal as a university-based program that can effectively address MDE’s goals of pre-service and in-service training for teachers, paraprofessionals and related service personnel while providing services to students.

The primary aim of the Gulf Coast Autism Project is to demonstrate how to design and implement appropriate public school programs for students with autism spectrum disorder,” said Dr. Tim Morse, associate professor in the Southern Miss Gulf Coast College of Education and Psychology. 

Southern Miss Gulf Coast will design a school program to provide a free, appropriate public education for children with autism.  It will include, but not be limited to, the following:

*Training on evidence-based practices for addressing the needs of children with autism to Local Education Agencies (LEA)

*Support and training to parents in behavioral management and educational interventionso       

*Assessments as needed

*Coordination of services between the child’s school district, Southern Miss and the parents or guardians

Students who participate will be placed by the Individualized Education Plan Committee from their school, which includes the parent, an agency representative from the school district, the student’s teachers and other knowledgeable and interested parties.

About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu/gulfcoast .
                                                                                   
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