University Autism Center

University Autism Center
Welcome to the University Autism Center

We are committed to serving individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities and their family, caregivers, and service providers throughout the Southeast Missouri region. Our Center can provide diagnostic evaluations and re-evaluations (infants through adulthood), assessment for treatment planning, behavior therapies and interventions based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, Communication therapies and interventions, Social skills and Social Thinking® therapies and interventions. We have a staff of professionals that are highly trained in their fields and are committed to providing the highest quality services as possible for individuals seeking assistance at our Center. In addition, we have a number of support groups, camps, and activities occurring throughout the year to provide additional therapy, training, and support for families and individuals with ASD or a developmental disability. We provide an evidence-based approach for all of our interventions and are able to collaborate with a variety of professionals in-house to offer the most effective approach individually tailored for your individual and family needs. We look forward to the opportunity to offer our services to you and your family!

Our Vision:
To forge collaborative partnerships whenever possible with relevant service providers in order to enhance and improve the services available to families experiencing Autism in Southeast Missouri.
To provide services to address autism-specific service needs in a manner consistent with the following goals:

  • Increasing access and reducing wait time for diagnostic and treatment services
  • Providing critical diagnostic information to families in a timely manner which includes appropriate referrals for other services their child may be eligible to receive and identify the treatment options including behavioral management;
  • Providing evidence-based intervention services and advocating in the child’s community;
  • Conducting training for pre-professional students and community professionals to increase the capacity for services throughout the state

The University Autism Center is fully staffed with credentialed and licensed professionals who have developed expertise in addressing the needs of individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families; using evidence-based practices as identified in research and acknowledged in the Missouri Autism Guidelines Initiative Publication, “Autism Spectrum Disorders: Guide to Evidence-Based Interventions” A 2012 Consensus Publication.

UAC maintains operations from the following funding:

  • Contract with the Missouri State Department of Mental Health, Division of Developmental Disabilities, Office of Autism Services
  • Missouri Autism Project, Parent Advisory Committee-Southeast Region (SE PAC), Mrs. Betty Hearnes, Chair
  • UAC is approved provider for the Missouri Department of Mental Health Regional Offices
  • Health insurance, including Medicaid
Missouri Autism Centers for Excellence:

Southeast Missouri State University Autism Center for Diagnosis and Treatment is one of the four Missouri Autism Centers for Excellence designated by the Missouri Department of Mental Health. As a Center for Excellence we are dedicated to decreasing the wait list for obtaining a diagnosis of autism funded by the Department of Mental Health, Division of Developmental Disabilities. The other three Missouri Autism Centers are located in Columbia, St. Louis, and Kansas City:

  • Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, University of Missouri
  • SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center/ Knights of Columbus Developmental Center
  • The Children’s Mercy Hospital, Section of Developmental and Behavioral Sciences

Together, these Missouri Autism Center’s seek to establish a model for high quality ASD research and service delivery in Missouri.

Historical Timeline


University notified of $2.6 million awarded for construction of an Autism Center for Diagnosis and Treatment; Colleges of Education and Health and Human Services began meeting to discuss what Autism Center should include and look like under leadership of Dr. Jane Stephens.

Spring and Summer 2007

University Committee visited 6 centers to begin developing design features:

- Thompson Center, University of Missouri, Columbia MO

- Triad Center, Vanderbilt, Nashville TN

- Kelley Autism Center, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green KY

- Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Southern Illinois University Carbondale IL

- Giant Steps Autism Program, St. Louis MO

- Judevine Autism Center, St. Louis MO (now TouchPoint Autism Services)

Fall 2007

- University expands Committee to include area service providers with similar funding; Collaborative Model with partners housed at the center begins to developed (TouchPoint, Tailor Institute, and Thompson Center)

- Advisory Panel Formed

- Proposal prepared regarding staffing and clinical program for purposes of determining funding needs

- University President Dr. Ken Dobbins and Senator Jason Crowell secure operational dollars for the Autism Center ($496,000.00)

February 2008

Part-time Project Coordinator hired (Connie Hébert) by Dr. Jane Stephens to gather information, meet with advisory panel, and develop plan for clinical program.

November 2008

Full-time Sr. Administrative Assistant hired

Connie become Interim Director, (60%)

January 23, 2009

Ground-breaking Ceremony held for new facility at Washington Elementary school (611 North Fountain)

July/August 2009

Clinical Staff Hired, begin designing clinical procedures

Connie appointed as Director (80%)

November 2009

Center begins accepting diagnostic appointments from temporary offices in Innovations Center, first floor

December 17, 2009

Moved into new Facility at 611 North Fountain Street

July 7, 2010

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony featuring Signing of Autism Insurance Coverage Legislation by Gov. Jay Nixon

October 2010

Autism Center begins billing Insurance

Fall 2011

Proposal to Faculty senate to consider establishing the designation of Clinical Faculty at Southeast Missouri State; proposal submitted on behalf of the University in collaboration with the College of Nursing.


May 2011

- Renovations are made to the Autism Center to address acoustical issues and sound transference

- Additional safety and security measures and installed: security camera in waiting and resource library area and ‘panic buttons’ are installed for clinicians to call for assistance if needed.

June 2011

First CAMP CONNECT hosted: 5 days of Day Camp advertised as an inclusive camp for individuals with Autism and a ‘buddy’ (peer or sibling); served 25 individuals (capacity) for first year. SE PAC provided numerous scholarships for individuals to attend. Camp was held under the direction of Dr. Nancy Aguinaga.

July 2011

Professional Learning- 2 days: Social Thinking Institute for professionals who support individuals with Autism. Primarily attended by educators. Lead by G. Elaine Beussink and Dr. Victoria Moore.

January 2012

Changed Sr Administrative Assistant to Billing Assistant- revised job description to reflect actual duties; changed position from clerical to technical status (lateral move).

May 2012

Permission granted to hire additional psychologist based on existing revenue/ recoupment from billing insurance. Hiring process completed in August 2012; Dr. Renée Patrick hired to begin January 2013 to allow for honoring existing contracts to teach in current location.

Fall 2012

Added psychotherapy as a more visible part of services

Fall 2012

Support Network for Parents (SNAP) created (actually second offering of parent support group- new acronym); very well attended- included activities and supervision for children.

Fall 2012

Renovations to space in the building to accommodate growing staff J. Relocation of Behavioral Staff to enclosed space (rm 150) to make single office space for psychologist

Fall 2012

Transfer of PAC funding from MU Thompson Center’s southeast outreach/behavioral clinic to SEMO University Autism Center for provision of behavioral, language and counseling services. Included the hiring of 1 behavior analyst, 1 associate behavior analyst, and 1 behavior analyst in-training to work with the current behavior analyst on staff- making a total of 4 behavior staff

Fall 2012

Dean’s Committee established to look at programming offered by the University and ways to enhance the Autism Center’s involvement in University programs and colleges.

Jan 2013

Effective January 2, 2013- Transfer of SE PAC Contract for treatment services from MU Thompson Center to University Autism Center.

University Autism Center gains one behavior analyst, one associate behavior analyst, and one additional behavior staff; in addition, a second psychologist begins at the Center.

Jan 2013

Staff includes:

2 Psychologists

1 Speech Language Therapist

4 Behavior Analysts

1 Facilities Management

1 Billing Assistant/ Support staff

1 student worker

1 director

Temporary Staff: Intake Coordinator (part time)

July 1, 2013

Effective July 1, 2013

The University Autism Center is reassigned to the College of Education to allow for better collaboration with existing programs and preparation of students.

August 2013

Effective August 5, 2013- Staff includes

2 Psychologists 1 Speech Language Therapist

3 Behavior Analysts 1 Billing Assistant/ Support staff

1 Facilities Management 1 student worker/reception

1 director

Temporary Staff: Intake Coordinator (full time effective 8/12/2013)


Phone: 573.986.4985
Fax: 573.986.4994
University Autism Center
611 North Fountain Street
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701
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