The GOP debate Wednesday has placed Oakland University in the national spotlight. Among the many programs offered on campus, is the Oakland University Center for Autism Research, Education and Support (OUCARES). OUCARES currently offers a variety of programs for individuals and families affected by the autism spectrum disorder (ASD). OU has been the leader in Michigan for providing programs for teachers of students with ASD.
In the mid 1980’s, Sidney Graber and Carol Swift offered an autism endorsement certificate for teachers and other professionals at OU. What began as an academic program started providing public services back in 2004, and now offers services and programming for more than 750 children and young adults on the spectrum. OUCARES’ goal is to become nationally recognized as a gold standard autism center.
There are currently over 50 programs offered today for individuals as young as 3 with ASD. Weekly programs include sports, music, photography, and social skills. Summer day camps are offered for 20 participants in four, 2 week-long sessions. Six years ago, Hollywood actor/director Joey Travolta began to offer his annual film camp for 50 campers on the autism spectrum.
Other activities offered include the Quality of Life Symposium, held in May. In this conference, recognized experts on autism address an audience including educators, community leaders, and parents. The upcoming 2012 Symposium is devoted to housing and employment.
OUCARES also offers an autism library, which holds over 200 books on autism. These books are available to OUCARES’ families for checking out.
Faculty, students and service providers are supplied with important research information concerning how to think about and support individuals and families affected by ASD. Education is a vital for teachers, counselors, and other professionals who provide support. There are many volunteer opportunities for OU students and members of the community.
For more information about OUCARES, visit their website http://www.oakland.edu/oucares/ or visit their Facebook page.