Blunt Appoints Hebert to New Commission to Develop Statewide Plan for Autism

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 22, 2008 — Connie Hebert of Cape Girardeau, interim director of the Southeast Missouri State University Autism Center for Diagnosis and Treatment, has been appointed by Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt to the Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Blunt has tasked the group with developing a statewide plan to help Missourians facing the challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

“Autism has a profound impact on Missouri families, and the Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders will help raise awareness about Autism and provide greater treatment options to better the lives of children,” Blunt said. “My administration has provided significant resources to this effort but we must do more to help effectively treat Missourians living with autism and encourage early diagnosis to help children growing up with the disorder.”   

Blunt signed Senate Bill 768 into law this year creating the Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders. The commission is designed to provide advice and make recommendations to the governor, General Assembly, and relevant state agencies regarding matters concerning autism spectrum disorder services, including healthcare, education, and other adult and adolescent services. The commission is required to submit recommendations for a statewide comprehensive plan for autism disorders to the General Assembly by July 1, 2009.

Hebert holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Pittsburg State University and master’s in special education from Pennsylvania State University. Her appointment as a representative of an institution of higher learning is subject to Senate confirmation for a term ending on Sept. 3, 2010.

Other Missourians appointed by Blunt to serve on the Missouri Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders are: • Paula F. Baker of Joplin is the CEO of the Ozark Center. Ms. Baker holds a bachelor’s degree in education and master’s in clinical psychology from Pittsburg State University. Her appointment as a representative of a mental health provider is subject to Senate confirmation for a term ending on September 3, 2012.  • Dr. David Crowe of Cape Girardeau is an orthodontist and president of The Tailor Institute, a nonprofit created to explore giftedness in high functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Crowe holds a bachelor’s degree in communications arts from Rhodes College and doctorate from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His appointment as a representative of an adult child is subject to Senate confirmation for a term ending on Sept. 3, 2010.  • Tiffany Daniels of Nixa is a state alternate on the Missouri Advisory Committee on Autism. Daniels attended Ozark Technical College. Her appointment as an individual with autism is subject to Senate confirmation for a term ending on Sept. 3, 2010.  • Dr. Janet Farmer of Columbia is the founding director of the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Farmer holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, master’s from Kansas State University and doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her appointment as a representative of an institution of higher learning is subject to Senate confirmation for a term ending on Sept. 3, 2012.  • Sarah Feldmiller of Kansas City is a coordinator and lead therapist at ABCn’D Autism Center. Feldmiller holds a bachelor’s degree in English and psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia and master’s in early childhood special education from Columbia University. Her appointment as a private provider representative is subject to Senate confirmation on Sept. 3, 2012.  • Julie R. Keathley of Dexter previously worked at the Missouri Delta Medical Center as a registered nurse and managed the Rehm Medical Clinic in Dexter. Keathley holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Southeast Missouri State University. Her appointment as a representative of a child is subject to Senate confirmation for a term ending on Sept. 3, 2012.  • Dr. Michele Kilo of Kansas City is chief of Section of Developmental & Behavioral Sciences at Children’s Mercy Hospital. Kilo holds a bachelor’s degree and medical degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her appointment as a primary care representative is subject to Senate confirmation for a term ending on Sept. 3, 2010.  • Dr. John Mantovani of Clayton is vice chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center. Mantovani holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Evansville and medical degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. His appointment as a diagnostician is subject to Senate confirmation for a term ending on Sept. 3, 2010.  • Vicki McCarrell of Pilot Grove is the executive director of Unlimited Opportunities, Inc. McCarrell holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Missouri-Columbia and master’s from California State University-Northridge. Her appointment as a county development disabilities board representative is subject to Senate confirmation for a term ending on Sept. 3, 2012.   • Donald McCary of St. Peters, is the director of special education from the St. Louis Special School District. McCary holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Auburn University and a master’s in behavioral analysis from the University of North Texas. His appointment as a director of special education program is subject to Senate confirmation for a term ending on Sept. 3, 2010.  • Christopher Norton of Jefferson City is an accounts receivable clerk at Scholastic. Norton holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Westminster College. His appointment as an individual with autism is subject to Senate confirmation for a term ending on Sept. 3, 2010.  • Anne Roux of Ballwin is executive director of Missouri Families for Effective Autism Treatment. Roux holds a bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from Northeast Missouri State University and master’s in speech-language pathology from the University of Kansas. Her appointment as a speech-language pathologist is subject to Senate confirmation for a term ending on Sept. 3, 2012.  

In addition, two members from the Missouri Senate, two members from the Missouri House, the director of the Department of Mental Health, the commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, the director of the Department of Public Safety, the commissioner of the Department of Higher Education, the director of the Department of Social Services and the director of the Department of Insurance will serve on the 24 member commission as defined by law.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the sixth most prevalent disability and the second most common developmental disability in the United States. Missouri currently serves more than 4,200 young Missourians with an ASD diagnosis across their lifespan.  Blunt has been a consistent champion for Missouri families who face the challenges of Autism. This summer, Blunt signed legislation designating $5 million for planning, design, renovation, construction and/or purchase of a facility for the Thompson Center for Autism. This funding ensures the Thompson Center has the resources and necessary tools to continue the life-changing work to promote research, teaching and service innovations to help improve the lives of children with Autism and other neurological conditions.

Last year, Blunt secured $3.9 million in additional state funding to focus on improvements to Autism treatment and diagnosis. The legislation provided: • $500,000 to create an intensive day treatment program at the Ozark Center in Joplin, the first of its kind in Missouri  • $2.4 million to reduce the waitlist for Autism diagnosis and treatment by expanding staff and training  • $1 million for Missouri’s Autism projects  Since taking office the governor has secured a total of $17.6 million in new state funding to support Autism services.