Fayetteville State University forms Autism Advisory Council
Fayetteville Observer - 2/15/2020
Feb. 15--Nicole Anthony has a personal reason for researching autism. Her son was diagnosed with the disorder more than 20 years ago.
Anthony, an assistant professor of special education at Fayetteville State University, has been working on the issue ever since. Now, she's formed an Autism Advisory Council, which is believed to be the only one of its kind in the country at an historically black college and university, according to a statement released by FSU.
The council's goal is to identify and deliver support to children and families impacted by autism in Cumberland County and the surrounding region, the statement said. Autism impacts one in 59 children in the United States and one in 57 in North Carolina, it said.
Anthony said in an interview that when her son was younger, she was trying to figure out why he was so quirky.
"He went through several different diagnoses," she said.
Minority children who are on the autism spectrum often are not immediately diagnosed correctly. Anthony said she believes historically black colleges and universities can play a role in helping address the issue.
Anthony said her research focuses on adolescents with autism. She said that the council got started after Pamela Jackson, FSU's provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, mentioned to one of Anthony's colleagues that she was interested in the university having some type of group that would be involved in autism.
The group initially considered having a summer camp for young people with autism, but decided to first develop a "needs assessment" that would help it determine how best to support the families, Anthony said. The council, which has met four times, hopes to start distributing the assessment to families next month, she said.
Anthony said the council doesn't want to replicate services that are already available.
"That's as bad as not having the services at all," she said.
Anthony also is a founding member of the National African American Autism Community Network, which seeks to empower and support African American families affected by autism. Also, she provides autism-related training to police departments and nonprofit organizations.
Others serving on the council are Danielle Nesbitt and Erica Campbell, both FSU faculty members; Brandie Taylor and Kevin Dennison, both parent advocates; Adrienne Trego, the Autism Society of Cumberland County's director of programs and outreach: Christy Thomas-James, coordinator in FSU's College of Education; and Jasmine McNeill, elementary education student.
Staff writer Steve DeVane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-486-3572.
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