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Autism Center of Excellence Opens in Scranton

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SCRANTON, Pa. -- The University of Scranton opened the first of five centers for children and adults on the autism spectrum throughout northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

The centers will also be used to help teachers and therapists throughout the area.

A former doctor's office on Mulberry Street is now home to an autism collaborative center of excellence. The center is run by the University of Scranton and serves as a main hub for four other centers across northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

"Everybody I talk to about the program says, you know, 'I have a son or a daughter or a nephew or a cousin, a brother.' And it's important that we get started, it's important that we address the issue. And hopefully, we'll have an impact," said Atty. John Moses, AllOne Foundation.

The Centers of Excellence are funded by the AllOne Foundation which donated $6 million to the project in 2018. Children and adults on the autism spectrum can visit the centers for services.

"If you're looking for child care services, if you're looking for respite care, if you're looking for a diagnosis, we'll be able to direct you to all these different regional hubs," said Dr. Debra Pellegrino, dean of Panuska College of Professional Studies at the University of Scranton.

Some of the counseling sessions at the center will be recorded and then used later for educational purposes. While the center is available for families, it's also a place for learning.

"It's going to be something we see in our career, having a post-graduate certificate for something, for children with autism, it's going to be really impactful to our career," said University of Scranton student Lauren Rice.

The University of Scranton will offer a post-graduate certificate program starting this fall. The course helps professionals in education or therapy better treat people with autism.

"We don't have a center for children with autism, or children with any disability in this area particularly, or anything so close to students where we can make an impact on them just as much as they can make an impact on our experience," Rice said.

Making the center mutually beneficial.

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