TOWSON, Md. (Jan. 2, 2008)—Through a gift of $50,000 from Douglas and Therese Erdman, the College of Health Professions at Towson University will establish the Center for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders which will offer and evaluate model programs for addressing the needs of adults, primarily young adults, with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. In addition to these services the center will support ongoing education for a variety of professionals who serve this population and provide outreach to a variety of entities.
Young adults entering higher education or the workplace are faced with a number of challenges. They find themselves dealing with career, health care, time-management and professional relationship issues as they move into new adult roles. For the individual with ASD, these challenges can be particularly difficult. At this time few resources are available to support individuals with ASD as they make the transition from home life toward independence. Professionals who focus on this group are limited in number, as are researchers.
The Erdmans have been touched by ASD and have experienced first-hand the support available to families. Douglas Erdman, an alumnus of Towson University, said “Our youngest son, Ross, has benefited from the many programs that exist for children with autism, but we have noticed that outreach seems to disappear for young adults. There just is not enough done for these kids as they matriculate into adulthood. That is what this gift is about: it is empowering young adults who have ASD to keep learning and to live life to their fullest.”
Therese Erdman added, “Our hope is to serve the students, the university, and the population of ever expanding young ASD people and their families in need of these services.”
Dr. Charlotte Exner, dean of Towson’s College of Health Professions, said, “The generosity of the Erdmans provided us with the critical start-up funding we needed to launch this important initiative. We view it as the first step in creating an effective, integrated, interdisciplinary resource for individuals with ASD, their families, professionals, employers, and the general public.” She also noted that the Center will rely on the expertise of Towson University faculty and staff with professional experience working with this population. Occupational therapy and speech-language services will serve as the base for the Center, to which other areas of professional expertise will be added in order to provide unique programming, conduct research, and support outreach.
Dr. Gary Rubin, vice president for University Advancement, stated, “this is the kind of gift that truly makes a difference in the lives of individuals."