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Comprehensive Autism Training for Educators and Health Professionals Advances Science-Based Practices across Missouri

February 29th, 2016

Story Contact: Sheena Rice, 573-882-8353,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – According to the CDC, approximately one in 68 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) each year. These children have difficulties with social communication and social interaction and require specific interventions in terms of education and health care. The Training Experts in Autism for Missouri (TEAM) program run by Jena Randolph and Karen O’Connor, assistant research professors in the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the University of Missouri, is making significant strides to implement quality training for educators and health professionals working with children with autism across Missouri.

TEAM is a free service provided by the Thompson Center for Autism with financial support from the state of Missouri. The program began in July 2013 and has been directed by Randolph and O’Connor since its inception. TEAM utilizes a comprehensive approach to ASD, working with educators, behavior analysts, care coordination specialists and health professionals across the state.

“The mission of TEAM is to increase expertise of educators and health professionals working with children with ASD and to advance the knowledge and implementation of current science-based practices through training and support,” Randolph said. “Our goal is to help Missouri providers use best practices in the field, improve overall knowledge, increase the number of highly qualified personnel and improve overall program quality in an effort to help Missouri children living with autism.”

From July 1, 2015 through February 24, 2016, TEAM has trained a total of 1,731 professional participants working in the autism field. Professionals seeking training from TEAM had the opportunity to have an individual consultation that included components such as observation, interviews and discussion in order to develop a specific training plan targeted to them.

“By implementing changes in classrooms and health care, TEAM targets professionals already working in the field of autism as well as those who need training,” O’Connor said. “These changes lead to improvements in overall program quality and positively impact individuals with autism.”

The MU Thompson Center is a national leader in confronting the challenges of autism and other developmental conditions through its collaborative research, training and service programs. Based on the medical home model, MU Thompson Center diagnostic, assessment and treatment services emphasize family-centered care that is comprehensive, coordinated, compassionate, culturally sensitive and accessible. The center aims to support families from the point of initial contact through access to needed services in the community with routine follow-up care over time to ensure the best possible outcome for each child and family.

For those interested in learning more about the TEAM program please contact