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Professor debuts center for developmentally delayed children

Aug. 15, 2008

KALAMAZOO--A Western Michigan University faculty member and well-known expert on autism is launching a special daycare and behavioral-training center in Kalamazoo to serve developmentally delayed children.

Dr. Richard W. Malott, WMU professor of psychology, will debut the Kalamazoo Autism Center Tuesday, Sept. 2, as a pilot project. It will be located in the Child Development Center, a well-established, non-profit daycare facility at 4510 W. KL Ave. Enrollment for this fall's limited spaces is on a first-come, first-served basis.

"I'm starting the Kalamazoo Autism Center because it's so difficult to find daycare for children with special needs, especially at an affordable cost," Malott says. "I also think it will greatly improve the quality of life of special-needs children and their families, during the time these children are enrolled in the center and long after they've graduated."

Because it will be housed in a daycare setting, the Kalamazoo Autism Center also will provide respite to the enrolled children's families, allowing both parents to obtain full- or part-time employment or engage in other outside activities.

Daycare services will be available from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, at least 45 weeks per year. Supplemental behavioral-based instruction will be offered to children from age 18 months to 12 years. The behavioral training curriculum will coordinate with and supplement the training public schools already provide to those with autism and other developmental delays.

Working in conjunction with the Child Development Center, the autism center will provide up to 30 hours of behavioral-based instruction to improve the enrolled students' skills and abilities related to academics, communication, playing, getting along with others and toilet training.

"That should increase the speed with which the children learn the pre-academic, academic, social, play, language and everyday-living skills being taught at school," Malott says. "We'll also be able to concentrate on specific areas that parents may want us to help their children with, such as developing extra social skills, building friendships or fine-motor skills, and managing anger."

The standard full-day tuition for daycare will be $189 per week for infants and $157 per week for older children. Other sources of support are being investigated to assist parents who cannot afford the full cost of the standard tuition. A lesser tuition rate will be charged for half-day attendance and at present, no additional fees will be charged for instruction.

In 1996, Malott helped develop the Discrete-Trial Early Childhood Developmental Delay Classroom in the Croyden Avenue School, a Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency school for autistic and cognitively impaired students from Kalamazoo County.

The classroom provides one-on-one applied behavior analysis instruction for autistic children. WMU practicum students, whom Malott helps train and supervise, serve as the classroom's tutors and tutor supervisors. They also will serve as Kalamazoo Autism Center staff members, under the guidance of Malott and experienced psychology graduate students from WMU.

Malott co-founded the Association for Behavior Analysis, as well as several of its subgroups, has received the association's Award for Public Service in Behavior Analysis and two Fulbright Senior Scholar awards.

He came to WMU in 1966 and helped start the behavior-analysis program, which is part of the University's internationally recognized Department of Psychology. In addition to other responsibilities, Malott directs WMU's Behavior Analysis Training System.

Instead of preparing psychologists to be researchers, that system's two-year master's-level curriculum prepares practitioners to work with autistic children. The curriculum allows students to focus on autism, developmental disabilities, and organizational behavior management. It includes an intensive practicum, which ensures students get the experience they need to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts.

WMU offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in psychology. Graduate students have the option of specializing in behavior-analysis, clinical, or organizational/industrial psychology.

For more information about the Kalamazoo Autism Center or to discuss enrolling a child, contact Richard Malott at dickmalott@dickmalott.com or (269) 372-1268. Those interested also may contact him at WMU:

Richard Malott, (269) 387-4481
Department of Psychology
Western Michigan University
1903 W. Michigan Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5439

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400