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Upstate Medical University adds master's program to help those with autism

Ellen Abbott
Henry Roane, PhD, is the Program Director of Upstate Medical University's new Behavioral Analysis Studies program

There’s a new master's program at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse that could help families with autistic children in central New York. 

It’s called a Behavior Analysis Studies program, and it trains students to provide therapeutic services to individuals with autism and related disorders. 

Program Director Henry Roane says it’s a specialty that has come into its own in recent years.  New York State has created a licensed professional who can assess and treat problem behaviors, language deficits as well caregiver training. But Roane said families in central New York aren’t getting the help that’s available elsewhere, because there aren’t enough local practitioners.

"Here it’s extremely fragmented. And towards that end, the level of service you see here with kids in central New York lags quite a bit behind the rest of the country," said Roane. "Obviously this is a step in the right direction to help fix that."

The two-year master's degree was approved by the state in August, and Upstate was able to begin the program this fall with a handful of students, including Allison Finley of Liverpool.

"I love making an impact on children’s lives," she said.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.