The Mailman Segal Center for Human Development has a long history of serving individuals with autism and their families. The Fort Lauderdale Oral School, now the Baudhuin Preschool, moved to the Nova campus in 1984 and opened its doors to children with autism the following year. Since then, the Baudhuin Preschool has become an educational program that is designed to meet the needs of learners with autism. In the late 1980’s, the Baudhuin School entered into a contract to provide publicly funded special education programs to preschoolers with autism, which continues to exist today.
The demand for professional development and program consultation for school districts based on the Baudhuin model began in 1995. The Autism Consortium has grown into the outreach training and program consultation arm of the Mailman Segal Center for Human Development to support human service agencies and school districts around the country that are serving individuals with autism. At any given time, the Consortium provides support to approximately 25 school districts around the country.
Clinical programs including Starting Right and the Unicorn Children’s Clinic are the two newest programs providing direct service to young children with autism. Starting Right is a caregiver-child program for children ages 18 to 36 months who have autism or are suspected of having autism or a related disability. The Unicorn Clinic provides multi-disciplinary diagnostic evaluations by a team of professionals from psychology, family therapy, speech-language pathology, and occupational therapy.
The growing numbers of individuals with autism and the need for more direct services, professional development activities, higher education programs, and research has led to the creation of Nova’s Interdisciplinary Council for the Study of Autism (ICSA). This council includes representatives from all of Nova’s departments and centers that are involved in autism. Individuals from the medical field, allied health, dental, optometry, pharmacy, education, psychology, and family therapy meet on a regular basis to develop and implement collaborative projects in this area.
The commitment of Nova Southeastern University and the Mailman Segal Center for Human Development is evident in the increasing number of autism-related programs and services offered by the university, as well as the increasing emphasis on research and academic development.