Autism institute encouraging awareness

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Many autistic individuals can have a life of capabilities rather than disabilities.

That's the message the Tailor Institute is promoting as part of Autism Awareness Month this April.

The Tailor Institute is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to autism research and therapy, primarily for those individuals with high-functioning autism.

Last year the Tailor Institute received a $200,000 grant from the Missouri Department of Economic Development. The funding allowed the institute to create a model program to help certain individuals with autism become productive members of society. Nine people are receiving treatment and therapy at the Tailor Institute, which is at 1936 Broadway.

Dr. David Crowe, a Cape Girar-deau orthodontist who's son, Taylor, was diagnosed with high-functioning autism in preschool, said autism is similar to how a gardener classifies weeds.

"There are many different types of weeds, yet they are thrown into the same category. The same is true with the different variations of autism within in the autism spectrum," Crowe said.

Autism can range from low-functioning, which can include mental retardation, to genius-level intellect with difficulties in social skills.

Carol Statler is the director at the Tailor Institute and has been influential in creating the therapy model at the institute.

"As we're researching, we're finding our program is unique," she said.

The Tailor Institute hopes to become the foremost research facility in the world studying high-functioning autism. It also wants to provide therapy and training for older individuals with autism.

The staff at the Tailor Institute is working to partner with local businesses to help place adults with autism in jobs.

"Some of these individuals have amazing capabilities and they have such potential," Crowe said. "But they've never had job opportunities or by the time they reach adulthood they have such low self-esteem, they fail."

Among the future plans at the Tailor Institute is a larger center that would provide more services for individuals with autism.

jfreeze@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 246

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