Tailor Institute to continue receiving state funding

Monday, April 30, 2012

Programs for autistic teens and young adults at the Tailor Institute at Southeast Missouri State University's Autism Center will grow for another year with the continuation of a Department of Economic Development grant. At the same time, the institute will begin a pilot program to serve younger clients with help from a local school.

Around $200,000 designated for the institute through a state-run workforce development program was cut in a version of the annual budget prepared by the state legislature several weeks ago during efforts to balance a $500 million shortfall projected for next year, but has since been added back for fiscal year 2013.

Jenny Knoderer, the institute's executive director of management and funding, and its founder, Dr. David Crowe, said the institute's programs would have continued without the state support, but that they are thankful to know it will be there to help to keep expanding access to assessments for their teen and young adult clients. The institute does not charge the clients for services.

The Tailor Institute works with clients throughout the autism spectrum who are considered "high functioning" by providing therapies and life enhancement programs offering preparation for entrance into vocational or college settings. "Giftedness," or talents and skills clients have, are identified through the assessments and built upon with the institute's programs. Programs are funded through private donations, some small grants and proceeds from an annual fundraiser in addition to the state grant. Around 20 people are currently being served.

A pilot program for children ages 5 to 11 separate from state funding will also begin this year at the institute. Knoderer said institute staff recently traveled to Wisconsin for a meeting with Dr. Darold Treffert, a psychiatrist with more than 40 years of experience studying Savant Syndrome, to discuss his research and to share their plans for the program. Treffert's research will be used to create an original assessment for children, Knoderer said. Assessments will be given by clinicians and will include question-and-answer and hands-on identification methods to look for and identify strengths, gifts and levels of savant.

Knoderer said word of the program is spreading fast and the institute is already receiving calls from out-of-state families with interest in participating. Fundraising for the program is ongoing. The program will be funded independently of grants the institute has received, according to Knoderer.

Students from Prodigy Leadership Academy, a private school on Broadway, will be involved with the program. Knoderer said she has been having conversations with the school's founder, Russell Grammer, to see how the institute and the school can come together as organizations to benefit the program. The launch date for the program is scheduled for early fall.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

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611 N. Fountain St., Cape Girardeau, MO

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