The vision of Western Michigan University is to establish in Michigan a nationally recognized Autism Center of Excellence focused on personnel preparation and the creation and dissemination of evidence-based treatments for autism.
The mission of the Western Michigan University Autism Center of Excellence (WMU-ACE) is to improve the lives of individuals on the autism spectrum and their families by:
- Identifying, creating and disseminating effective treatments for autism;
- Increasing its capacity to deliver evidence-based assessment and therapy for individuals on the autism spectrum across the lifespan;
- Preparing personnel to deliver evidence-based assessment and therapy in schools, medical settings and community-based settings for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families;
- Linking researchers from various disciplines (e.g., psychology, speech, special education, neurology, genetics, chemistry) to build capacity to conduct multi- disciplinary research on the causes, prevention and treatment for autism-related disorders and to obtain appropriate extramural support.
The WMU ACE was funded two grants to Western Michigan University from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The grants were awarded to Drs. Stephanie Peterson and R. Wayne Fuqua, chair and professor, respectively, in the WMU Department of Psychology, who have implemented the grant project as co-investigators. The grants funded a sweeping array of initiatives that use high-tech methods to help train mental health practitioners, parents and others working with autism spectrum disorder, ultimately leading to wider certification of other professionals trained in treating autism.
The grant initiatives came after the state reviewed existing autism services and passed legislation requiring insurance companies to cover treatment. Drs. Peterson and Fuqua looked closely at the gaps that were identified by the state and wove their grant proposal around those needs.