Southeast’s Autism Center to Expand Services with Addition of New Psychologist

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The Southeast Missouri State University Autism Center for Diagnosis and Treatment will soon see more clients for diagnostic services after welcoming Dr. Carly Beckett as its newest staff licensed clinical psychologist.

The Center, located at 611 N. Fountain Street in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, opened its doors in 2010 and provides a rich scope of services to families and individuals impacted by autism spectrum disorder, including initial diagnostic evaluations and comprehensive re-evaluations for the purpose of identifying autism and various comorbid mental health diagnoses or speech/learning difficulties. Beckett previously served as a post-doctoral intern for one year at the Center before being appointed as its newest staff licensed clinical psychologist.

Filling the full-time licensed clinical psychologist position allows the Center to see individuals awaiting an autism diagnosis much more quickly and allows clients faster access to psychological therapies, said Dr. Renee’ Patrick, Autism Center director and psychologist.

“We are able to see more clients for diagnostic services with a licensed clinical psychologist on staff full time,” Patrick said. “Typically, the psychologist is the diagnostic lead in many clinics — this is how we operate here. For those clinics that have a developmental pediatrician or psychiatrist, they may work as co-diagnostic leads with the psychologist.”

As the full-time licensed clinical psychologist on staff, Beckett will also lead grand rounds at the Center.

“This is a multidisciplinary meeting to ensure that clients receive all of the services they need for either therapies or diagnosis,” Patrick said. “The psychologist meets with the speech pathologists and licensed counselor weekly, and with the behavior analyst team, speech pathologists and licensed counselor monthly.”

The National Center for Clinical Excellence recommends a multidisciplinary approach to treating autism spectrum disorder. Autism is a complex disorder requiring intervention from multiple provider types for optimal outcomes. In line with this recommendation, Beckett will ensure that all disciplines have an opportunity to address client intervention needs during the multidisciplinary meeting.

“Conducting assessments in the multidisciplinary manner that we do at the Center is best practice and I am thankful to be a part of it,” Beckett said.

She is a strong proponent of multidisciplinary work at the Center, adding “I have really enjoyed my first year as a post-doctoral intern at the Center working to reduce the waitlist for autism and other related disorders and I am excited to continue in my new role. I hope to help grow the center by helping recruit a new post-doctoral intern and increase the number of psychologists in the area.”

The Center serves about 100 clients every month, running hundreds of appointments with many clients seen multiple times each week for therapies. Clients, ranging in age from one to 69, come from 19 counties across the southeast Missouri region.

The Center specializes in research and evidence-based intervention practices. The facility offers applied behavior analytic (ABA) interventions, psychotherapy, and speech language pathology services, each with specific intervention programs. Psychology services include cognitive behavioral therapy, Parent Child Interaction Therapy, RUBI Parent Training and mindfulness-based interventions. Behavior analytic interventions include early intensive behavior intervention services for preschool aged children and targeted interventions for school-aged children. Finally, speech therapy interventions include social cognition/social thinking, executive functions, and social skills camps that focus on social communication, language pragmatics and perspective taking.

For more information about the Southeast Missouri State University Autism Center for Diagnosis and Treatment, call (573) 986-4985, email autismcenter@semo.edu or visit semo.edu/autismcenter.

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