Baker College recognized as an ‘Autism Angel’

Contributions by occupational therapy students and faculty prompt award


Accepting the Autism Angel Award on behalf of the Baker College occupational therapy program are students and graduates: from second from left, Tara Baase, Vassar; Beth Fischer, Flushing; Jennifer Trevorrow, Davison; and Samantha Stolar, East Lansing. Presenting the award from the Autism Support and Resource Center are Anne Haley and Amy Morris, far left and far right.

Accepting the Autism Angel Award on behalf of the Baker College occupational therapy program are students and graduates: from second from left, Tara Baase, Vassar; Beth Fischer, Flushing; Jennifer Trevorrow, Davison; and Samantha Stolar, East Lansing. Presenting the award from the Autism Support and Resource Center are Anne Haley and Amy Morris, far left and far right.

FLINT TOWNSHIP — The Baker College occupational therapy program has received the Autism Angel Award from Autism Support and Resource Center (ASRC).

The award recognizes support provided by students and faculty in the bachelor’s/master’s program that trains students to help patients who have physical and mental challenges improve their ability to perform everyday tasks and achieve more independence.

ASRC is a not-for-profit organization located in Burton that works to enhance the quality of life for children with autism.

“Our five-year partnership with Baker College has been extremely beneficial for the families who have turned to ASRC for help in dealing with the effects of autism,” said Anne Haley, ASRC executive director. “The students and faculty in Baker College’s occupational therapy program have gone above and beyond to ensure the availability of services and activities for those living with autism in our community.

“We are also thrilled that the students are gaining valuable experience in dealing with this disorder and will be able to potentially use this experience to help others later in their careers.”

Baker College students have provided hundreds of hours in support of ASRC monthly socials, POWER Basketball and POWER Summer Camp – providing one-on-one assistance to campers. POWER is the acronym for peer outreach with extraordinary results.

Classroom projects benefiting ASRC are included in Baker College curriculum. Students conduct needs assessments to identify ways occupational therapy can help ASRC clients. The students get real-world experience by presenting their findings and implementing projects approved by ASRC management and board.

“ASRC provides a unique opportunity for students to enhance their therapeutic skills in creating and implementing socialization activities important to a child’s well-being,” said Susan Tons, Ph.D., OTRL, CHT, Baker College occupational therapy professor, who has also served on the ASRC board of directors.

It is through projects such as developing a social skills class or coordinating a social gathering that students quickly learn activities must be meaningful in order to engage the children. With that knowledge, students then counsel parents and caregivers in ways to duplicate successful techniques at home.

Haley said autism is being diagnosed more than in the past and is an important public health concern. ASRC estimates that 1,000 school-aged children with autism live in Genesee County. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that about one in 68, or 1.5 percent of 8-year-olds in the U.S. was identified with autism spectrum disorder in 2012. For more information about ASRC, contact Haley at 810.742.5404 or asggc@yahoo.com.

For more information about Baker College’s occupational therapy program, contact Chuck Gurden in the admissions office at 800.469.3165 or adm-ol@baker.edu, or visit www.baker.edu.


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