(Cedar Rapids, Iowa), Iowa—A new pilot program featuring individually tailored therapies for children with Asperger's syndrome has been launched in conjunction with a fund raising campaign by Four Oaks. The new pilot program will begin treating children from the Cedar Rapids area diagnosed with Asperger's starting January 7, 2008. Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, is a disorder that typically affects children with average to above-average intelligence starting at early age. Its exact cause is not known.
"Children are being identified with Asperger's syndrome at a rapidly escalating rate here in Iowa and we believe there is a critical gap in therapy alternatives statewide," said Keith Gatrost, program developer and senior manager at Four Oaks. "This program will incorporate a variety of treatment options specially designed for each child in a very accommodating setting—away from school. Our goal is to have a significant and positive impact on the quality of each child's life."
With input from the Asperger's youth, the youth’s parents and the educational team, Four Oaks staff members will develop an individually designed program of treatment for each child in the pilot program. The child's family will be actively involved in each phase of the therapy, which is a trademark of Four Oaks' treatment philosophy. According to Monica Ryan-Rausch, program coordinator at Four Oaks, this will help assure that environments and behaviors modeled in the program sessions will be carried over to the home as well.
The pilot program will also allow Four Oaks to monitor the success of several treatment techniques for Asperger’s, including Social Stories, Social Skills teaching models, TEACCH methods, and social thinking strategies.
In conjunction with the pilot treatment program, Four Oaks also announced the start of a fundraising campaign to expand treatment services for Asperger's syndrome beyond the pilot program.
"Private donations will be a critical component in the Asperger's plan," said Gatrost. "Once a child is diagnosed with Asperger's, their family faces challenges in accessing funding for needed services. State and federal funding that specifically supports Asperger's treatment is essentially non-existent."
According to the U.S. Department of Education, Iowa had a 727-percent increase in the number of children with autistic disorders between 1993 and 2002. Currently, there are more than 3,700 kids in Iowa that have been identified on the autism spectrum, according to Area Education Agency figures.
Four Oaks is widely known and respected for the critical services they have provided for high-risk youth and families since 1973. Starting as a 10-bed group home for adolescent boys, the non-profit organization has expanded into several areas of service that focus on children and their families. For more information or to contribute to the Asperger's treatment program, please visit www.FourOaks.org or call 319-364-0259.