Chris Schulz Published

New Tool Helps West Virginians Find Autism Resources

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West Virginians seeking services or resources related to autism have a new way of finding them. 

April is World Autism Month and the West Virginia University (WVU) Center for Excellence in Disabilities has developed a new directory and interactive map of available autism resources across the state.

Lesley Cottrell, the center’s director and a professor in the WVU School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatric Research, said finding services like family support groups or music therapy has been the most common issue for the center’s patients and clients for years. 

“We were providing that verbally when they would come see us, but then there was this larger group who was in that middle gray area who were experiencing the same challenges,” Cottrell said. “We knew over time, West Virginia was advancing in the number and variety of services for individuals with autism, neurodivergent individuals and their families. So we wanted to showcase that, we didn’t want to just list WVU services. Someone from another area of the state might have a place right next to them that they could go to.”

Now, the new website allows Cottrell and her colleagues to direct people across the state to their local services.   

“We tried to tap into existing structures, but then really take a team approach, a statewide team approach with our partners to provide this,” she said.

Cottrell said the team welcomes feedback to ensure their directory is up to date both with providers and types of services needed by the community.

“We tried to be very exhaustive in our list,” she said. “And then related to that, as providers may come and go, we keep that updated, so that someone can find it in maps, the actual address, the phone number, the office hours are on there. We try to keep that as up to date as possible. If we did miss something, or if there’s a type of therapy that they’re looking for that is not on this list, to keep it going it’s really important to get that feedback.“