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Sunflower autism program benefits from Midwest Energy donation

Wesley Dukes, 4, learns to match shapes on an iPad, which was purchased with a donation from Midwest Energy. The technology is used in the Applied Behavior Analysis program at Sunflower Early Education Center.

A donation to Sunflower Early Education Center (EEC) is going a long way to benefit children who have been diagnosed with autism and the specialists who provide their therapy, said Heather Quillin, EEC children’s coordinator.

The $450 gift from Midwest Energy paid for an iPad, which service providers use to teach new skills to children and enhance their communication abilities. The carrying case and screen protector were included.

The technology is earmarked for the EEC’s Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program that is designed for children with a medical diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“Thanks to the Midwest Energy Community Fund, we have another opportunity to improve and expand our services to children ages birth to 5,” Quillin commented. “We use the iPad for a variety of learning activities with the children.

“There are numerous apps and resources we can access for teaching specific skills,” she added.

For example, the Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP) program is used for children with limited vocal communication skills. The app functions as an assistive technology device.

“Access to additional iPads will allow us to pilot this system for young children throughout all three of our programs at EEC,” Quillin said.

Therapy providers also benefit from a web-based program called ABAdesk, which allows them to record data on the iPad, instead of using paper and pencil, noted Alyson Burkhart, EEC autism specialist.

“The data is automatically saved during each session with a child and reduces the time spent completing paperwork,” Burkhart explained. “This system helps us track the child’s progress.

“In our ABA program, we analyze graphs of data to determine if the treatment plan is effective,” she continued. “This program graphs all data for us; it really is a time saver.”

ABA at Sunflower is offered to children up to age 5 or when they start kindergarten. Services may involve one-on-one teaching, group classroom instruction and/or parent training for up to 25 hours a week.

Sunflower Diversified Services, which owns and operates the EEC, serves infants, toddlers and adults in Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. It is in its 55th year.

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