Autism: Getting on the same page
By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
July 13, 2002
Dr. Mark Yeager, director of the Central Mississippi Residential Center in Newton, said Friday that Mississippi's ability to help autistic children is improving but more work is needed.
Yeager was the speaker at the "Insights into Autism Spectrum Disorders" workshop held at Mississippi State University-Meridian Campus. The workshop drew 94 people including parents of autistic children, educators and health care professionals.
Yeager said the number of children being treated for autism is increasing.
Yeager said the state departments of mental health, education and rehabilitative services are working to enlist other agencies and physicians to make more resources available.
Yeager, who holds a doctorate in education leadership, is president of Together Enhancing Autism Awareness in Mississippi, a volunteer organization that works with support groups. He said early intervention is the key to successful treatment.
Mona Fields is a Parkview Elementary School teacher who has autistic children in her kindergarten class. She is also the mother of a 16-year-old autistic child and co-founder of Meridian Autism Resource and Support.
Fields said she learned more about autistic behavior at the workshop.
She also said she was encouraged by the enthusiasm and interest she saw among workshop participants who wanted more specialized training.
Friday's workshop was sponsored by Alliance Health Center; Mental Health Association in Lauderdale County; Mississippi State University Social Work Program, Meridian Campus; and United Way of East Mississippi.