NEWS on LIFE, WORK, & PLAY in Mississippi's College Town

Restaurant Week Charity Profile: Autism & Developmental Disabilities Clinic

Good eats do good during Starkville Restaurant Week — March 13-22! For 10 days, we hope you’ll sample many of our participating restaurants — over 30 in all — and at the end of your meal, you’ll have the opportunity to help us choose our charity grand prize winner. All three of our top charities make a wonderful impact on the greater Starkville area, and SRW 2015 will offer each of them additional support. For our last charity profile, we visited with the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic…

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How long has your organization been in operation and how was it founded?

Over the last 20 years the School Psychology faculty at Mississippi State University have offered services to the community on a small scale in a variety of different ways. The School Psychology program is in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology in the College of Education at Mississippi State University. Historically, services have included assessment and behavior and academic interventions. Services were usually provided through connections with local school districts and when individual families would reach out for help from time to time. Given the need for effective services and high quality training opportunities for School Psychology graduate students, the faculty worked together to formalize the School Psychology Services Center, which is ran out of the second story of the Box Building on campus. In the midst of that formalization came The Autism and Development Disabilities clinic, officially opened in March of 2014. The Autism and Developmental Disabilities clinic is largely our flagship clinic, providing the bulk of our services to the community. The clinic was formalized as one of four hubs of services (i.e., Autism and Developmental Disabilities, Assessment, Academics, and Supplemental Services) under what we now call the School Psychology Services Center.

What is your organization’s ongoing mission?

The ongoing mission of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities clinic is to provide high quality service to the community, effective training to School Psychology graduate students, and to conduct meaningful research to enhance the treatment of individuals with Autism and Developmental Disabilities.

In what ways does your organization impact the Golden Triangle area?

The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic impacts the Golden Triangle in a number of ways. Perhaps the greatest way we impact the Golden Triangle is through our service. We provide individual weekly intervention for children and families targeting behavioral concerns, improving functional skills, and working on academics. In addition to our individual services we provide social skills groups to children with Autism and developmental disabilities who may need to work on improving social skills such as greetings, recognizing emotions, sharing, teamwork, etc. Along with providing intervention services to members of the community, we also partner with Mississippi State University’s Disabilities Support Services to provide Autism Liaison services to degree seeking MSU students with Autism, a service that is unique to MSU. Aside from our intervention services, we also provide psychological and psycho-educational assessment services.

School Psychology graduate students working towards their Educational Specialist or Doctorate degrees in School Psychology provide all of our intervention and assessment services, under the supervision of the faculty. This directly maps onto our commitment to provide high quality training to future practitioners who start their careers and provide services to the community. In line with our training commitment, we provide training to local schools, parent groups, and other organizations. It is through activities like these we are able to have the greatest impact on the surrounding community, offering help any way we can.

Can you briefly share one of your success stories?

While it is difficult to share specific success stories because of confidentiality, we have many. Some of our favorite experiences include: a child requesting something from a parent for the first time, making it through an academic assignment without having a tantrum, a child making a friend in a social skills group, or a parent being able to feed their child for the first time. With each client, we make personalized goals to target and it is always special to see each child and family succeed.

How do you anticipate using the $5000 if your organization is voted as the top charity for Starkville Restaurant Week?

While the School Psychology Program is provided with space to house the clinic in the Box Building on campus, all other aspects of the clinic are self-funded. That is, the clinic provides intervention and assessment services on a sliding scale fee based on income. This money is then used to purchase everything else in the clinic, including intervention materials, toys, paper, ink, tissues, furniture, resources for parents, etc. The $5000 would help us purchase many much needed materials and keep our doors open.

You’re one of our top three SRW charities! Now, tell us who YOU would vote as the top three Starkville restaurants to try during Starkville Restaurant Week?

We can’t wait to visit City Bagel, Lost pizza, and Harvey’s!