SPRING 2021 NEWSLETTERTHE SPECTRUM EDUCATION CENTERThe Spectrum Education Center provides educational opportunities for people who want to learn about autismintervention and advocacy, while developing personal strengths, interpersonal awareness, and sensitivity. The SpectrumEducation Center embodies the mission of the University of Mount Union, to prepare students for fulfilling lives,meaningful work, and responsible citizenship. The Spectrum Education Center is rooted in the practice of providingmeaningful opportunities for people to engage in autism intervention and advocacy.Higher EducationThe Center serves the growing interest of highly motivated undergraduate students who want to engage in valuablework that benefits their long-term goals, while benefitting the community at large. The Center offers a variety ofprograms and courses for undergraduate students, including: The Spectrum Internship Program, the Peers Program, theRBT Training program, and courses related to developmental disabilities.Professional DevelopmentProfessionals in Northeast Ohio benefit from access to the professional development services offered through theSpectrum Education Center. Professional development sessions inspire those in the field of disability services to considernew approaches and strategies to support individuals with special needs. The Center also offers community workshops.Community members are eligible to participate in the RBT training program offered through the Center.Autism InterventionAssessment and intervention services are offered for members of the community with autism. Individualized AppliedBehavior Analysis (ABA) treatment plans incorporate socialization, play, adaptive behavior and communicationsskills. Plans are designed and supervised by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), while being implemented by aRegistered Behavior Technician (RBT). The Spectrum Education Center also offers the PEERS Program. PEERS is worldrenowned for providing evidence-based social skills treatment.Learn more or join our mailing list atmountunion.edu/spectrumThe Spectrum Education Center is affiliatedwith the University of Mount Union
ABOUT THE SPECTRUM EDUCATION CENTERMESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTORDr. Kristine TurkoIt is with great excitement that I write this letter to the friendsof the Spectrum Education Center at the University of MountUnion. As we begin the new year, we bid 2020 a hearty farewell.Paulo Coelho wrote, “If you are brave enough to say goodbye, lifewill reward you with a new hello.” I think we are all feeling braveand ready for what a new year has in store!The Spectrum Education Center is embarking on a two-yearstrategic plan. The plan is rooted in Spectrum’s educationcentered foundation and cultivates opportunities to engagewith the greater community.The Spectrum Education Center will move towards the futurewith transformational programming, leadership in educationalopportunities, and high-impact intervention services. As weprepare for the future, we will be nimble and responsive inour approach to delivering the best services possible to ourstakeholders.This newsletter is written with the goal of informing thecommunity about the programs and services that the SpectrumEducation Center offers. We are excited to share informationabout the work being done: to support undergraduate exploration in autismadvocacy and intervention, to promote continued education in the field of autismservices, and to provide intervention services to communitymembers with autismPlease share this information with those who would like to learnmore about autism, autism intervention, and ways to advocatefor people with autism. If you would like more information aboutthe Center, please contact us at [email protected] look forward to continuing our services and findingmeaningful ways to engage with the community.FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIAfacebook.com/umuspectrumAUTISM AWARENESS
POSITIVE OUTCOMESALUMNI SPOTLIGHTMary (Vallinger ‘11) BrownCo-Owner/Supervisor at Progressive ABA Therapy GroupAdjunct Faculty at Youngstown State UniversityAs a psychology student at Mount Union, I participated in asummer internship program (now the Spectrum InternshipProgram) where I gained valuable experience working withstudents with autism at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Autism.This was my first experience working with students with specialneeds. This experience shaped my interest in behavior therapyand paved the way for me to pursue a graduate education inApplied Behavior Analysis. This internship experience allowedme to be a competitive candidate for graduate school and jobplacements in the field.I love the community atmosphere and the education andopportunities that Mount Union afforded me. I don’t think Iwould be where I am now in my professional career withoutmy experiences and education at Mount. I enjoy returning tocampus for visits and have presented to current psychologystudents on opportunities available upon graduation in the fieldof autism and behavior therapy.As a practicing behavior analyst, I supervise direct care staffwho provide one on one behavioral interventions to childrenand adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. In this role Iconduct assessments, develop curriculum and programs, writebehavior intervention plans, and provide training to parents,schools, and other stakeholders.The best part of my job is that I get the opportunity to helpimprove the lives of individuals with special needs and theirfamilies. Working as a behavior analyst can be challenging but isextremely rewarding when we get to be a part of moments likehelping a child to communicate for the first time. I am grateful tohave a job where I can help to create such meaningful outcomesfor children and their families.I am also an adjunct faculty member in the psychologydepartment at Youngstown State University. In this role, Iteach coursework in the Master’s program in Applied BehaviorAnalysis. I also provide supervision to students for the practicum/fieldwork hours requirement.I would like to pursue my doctorate degree in the field ofpsychology in the near future. I hope to continue to work as aclinician and researcher in the field of psychology and AppliedBehavior Analysis.REGISTERED BEHAVIOR TECHNICIAN (RBT) PROGRAMAn RBT is a credentialed paraprofessional who practicesunder the close, ongoing supervision of a Board CertifiedBehavior Analyst. The RBT is primarily responsible for thedirect implementation of behavior-analytic services andprovides one-on-one therapy to children in their homeenvironment, in the school community, and in the office.The RBT Training Program provides practical workingknowledge of the basic principles of Applied BehaviorAnalysis (ABA). Training includes 40 hours of core curriculum,supervision, and credentialing preparation. Mount Unionstudents and community members are eligible to enroll.Contact Dr. Kristine Turko at [email protected] or(330) 829-2830 for more information.
STUDENT SPOTLIGHTSAlyssa Adams ‘20Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology at Spalding UniversityGetting my RBT was incredibly influential and gave my great insight on what comesafter an autism diagnosis. Because of my certification, I was able to provide directservices to kids on the autism spectrum while building my resume to apply to graduateprograms. My experience as an RBT gave me a solid foundation to build on as a futureclinical psychologist.Caitlynn Conner ‘20Masters Student at Ball State UniversityWorking as an RBT has impacted me in so many ways. I love the work that I am doingas it is meaningful and I know that I am making a difference in someone else’s life. Italso allows me to be an advocate for those whose voice isn’t always heard. Currently,I am pursuing my master’s degree to become a BCBA from Ball State University whilealso working as an RBT. As an RBT, I teach everything from basic social skills to teachinga child how to communicate! If it wasn’t for Dr. Turko and the Spectrum InternshipProgram, I am not sure that I would be in the field that I am in now. I am so thankful forthe opportunities the internship gave me!Lauren Skulina ’20Peace CorpsThe Registered Behavior Technician certification gave me the opportunity to growprofessionally by using the skills I was learning in training hands on at my internshipsite. I gained practical experience in identifying behaviors, collecting and analyzingdata, and developing social skills. After completing my RBT certification, I received a jobalmost immediately as a behavior technician. My professional development throughthe RBT Training prepared me to implement behavior plans in a workplace setting; andgave me professional experience to discuss in graduate school interviews.Lou Marich ‘19Outpatient Behavior Therapist at Cleveland Clinic Center for AutismThe RBT program is a great choice for those pursuing a career in ABA therapy. Learningthe core concepts and techniques of ABA with the ability to discuss and practice withclassmates was extremely helpful understanding the curriculum. The online modulesallow you to complete the course at your own pace and truly retain the material. Thisin-depth approach solidified ABA as my career and got me ready to begin treatment!After completing the course, I had an advantage over other job applicants. I wascertified and ready to start working as a behavior therapist, without a lot of onboardingby my employer. I was able to secure a position after graduation, skip the usual RBTtraining and begin treating patients all because of Mount Union’s RBT Training.
PEERS PROGRAMTopics of Instruction: Using appropriateconversational skills Finding common interests bytrading information Appropriately using humor How to enter and exitconversations between peers Being a good host during gettogethers Making phone calls to friends Choosing appropriate friends Being a good sport Handling arguments anddisagreements Changing a bad reputation Handling rejection, teasing,and bullyingPre-requisites: Have friendship problems Teens in middle or high school Teens must be interestedin attending the programvoluntarily Parent must be willing toparticipateApply:Contact Dr. Kristine Turko, acertified PEERS provider, at330-829-2830 or [email protected] to completea 15-minute phone screen andrequest an enrollment packet.ABOUT THE PROGRAMThe PEERS program is an evidence-based social skills intervention formotivated adolescents in middle school or high school who are interested inlearning ways to help them make and keep friends.MOUNT UNION STUDENT MENTORSThe success of the PEERS Program depends on the hard work of UMU studentmentors. Mentors learn ways to successfully interact with people who haveautism and encourage their development of appropriate social skills. PEERS mentors are enrolled in SPE 210, a 2-credit course. Students enrolled in the classmeet with the PEERS group for 90 minutes each week, in addition to attendingthe weekly class meeting. Mount Union students interested in enrolling in SPE210 should contact Dr. Kristine Turko at [email protected] SUCCESS“Thank you for the opportunity for my son to partake in the PEERS programoffered at the University of Mount Union. He loves the color purple and he alsoloves working with his mentor on his social skills. I was unsure if my son who is tenyears old and has Autism along with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder would handlethe campus life. I was particularly impressed by how welcoming the staff andstudents were to my son as he is unique in so many ways. Without this programthat your school has offered, he would never of been able to in his eyes, haveexperienced a college life.”
COMMUNITY PARTNER AND INTERNSHIP SITE SPOTLIGHTGOLDEN KEY CENTER FOR EXCEPTIONAL CHILDRENYear of 2020-2021, three of the organization’s classrooms areundergoing a certification in Pyramid Approach to Education.This approach is provided by Pyramid Educational Consultantsis based in the principles of functional applied behavior analysisthat coincide with education, work and home settings neededskills.Outside of education and intervention services The Golden Keyhas also formed several “extra-curricular” programs for both thestudents and the community. Two of its primary extra programs– The Golden Key Food School & the social-emotional program are found within each classroom on a daily basis.The Golden Key Center for Exceptional Children Inc. is a 501(c)3organization. This specialized school is an ODE-accredited,non-public charter school. Its mission is to provide qualityeducation and intervention services for children with autismand developmental disabilities. The school provides a schoolprogram for classes kindergarten through 8th grade. Additionally,it offers a preschool program that provides the ever-importantearly intervention to those on the autism spectrum ages three tofive years old.A family, student, center approach is utilized by the The GoldenKey. The low student to teacher ratio is purposely done toallow for a personal and individualized education. It provideseducational services specific to a student’s grade level, basedupon Ohio Common Core Content Standards; Direct interventionspecific to a student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP); Additionalindividualized services offering cognitive skill development andrequired therapy and a year ‘round for student in our Preschooland PreK Intervention Programs.The Golden Key is an approved provider of the Jon PetersonScholarship and the Autism Scholarship. These scholarships areprovided to students with certain educational eligibilities. TheGolden Key has no out of pocket expenses for its families fortuition, education and any therapies dictated under the studentsIndividual Education Plan. The Golden Key works with the schooldistrict of residence to ensure the student customized plan isbeing fulfilled.Highly qualified staff at The Golden Key include eightintervention specialists for its 100 students. In addition,professional educators lead classrooms to meet educationalstandards. Therapists are contracted by the organization toprovide onsite services for students in need of occupational,physical and speech and language therapies. In the AcademicThe Food School is overseen by a certified Food School Specialistin the SOS Food School Program. This is a sensory oral processingmethod this involves a total body approach to eating. Thisapproach is proven to be most beneficial to people on theautism spectrum. The social-emotional program is a hands-onsocial behavior-based program to allow for the students toutilize appropriate social skills and emotions. This program is ledby a certified instructor in Social Thinking.The Golden Key is governed by a Board of Directors and licensedunder Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Department ofJob and Family Services. The organization’s executive directoris co-founder, Terry Frank. Frank had 30 –plus years in thecommunity creating autism programs for the Stark County Boardof Developmental Disabilities and other such organizations. Afterretiring from DD she decided to create a school dedicated tothose who are need of intervention and specialized services notoften found in other schools.The Golden Key owns its building thanks to the generosity ofsupporters and donors and is centrally located in Canton, Ohiooff of I-77 and US-62.
SPECTRUM INTERNSHIPHANDS-ON EXPERIENCERachel Ricchiuto ‘22Mount Union feels like a second home because of the professorsand students that I have the pleasure to work with. For mepersonally, the psychology department has gone above andbeyond to make me feel valued and listened to. I am truly sothankful to be able to attend this school.I chose psychology as my major because mental healthawareness is the thing that I am the most passionate about inmy life. I am a huge advocate for those with mental illnesses aswell as developmental disabilities. I believe God put me on thisearth to help someone the way my family and support systemhas helped me.The best experiential learning opportunity that I have had atMount Union is my internship at The Golden Key School forExceptional Children. I actually love it there so much that Iapplied for a job there when my internship ends. I am happy tosay I was hired as well! Its always a pleasure to be able to workwith the boys in my classroom, they never fail to brighten myday. They are all so unique and wonderful and seeing the waytheir minds work has been beyond educational. It always puts asmile on my face to go to Golden Key because I get to work withsome wonderful kids!My ultimate career goal is to obtain my Ph.D. in ClinicalPsychology and open up my own practice to work with childrenand teenagers with mental illnesses and developmentaldisabilities. Mount Union is preparing me for my dreamthrough the coursework I am able to learn from as well as theprofessional relationships I am able to have with my professors.I know that my professors will be able to support me andguide me on my way to this goal. The most important waythat Mount Union is preparing me is through my internshipexperience. Being able to work in the field I want to go in ismore educational than any textbook could ever be.The Spectrum Internship Program providesprofessional training and education related toautism intervention and advocacy in the form of asemester-long immersive experience. The programprovides unique experiential learning opportunitiesfor undergraduate students and is unlike any otherprogram in the country. Students accepted intothe Spectrum Program gain applied experiencethrough placement in internships, while takingcomplementary coursework and earning creditstowards graduation. Students work approximately24 hours per week in their internship positions athighly respected clinical sites and receive valuableonsite training from clinical staff. Additionally, internscomplete rigorous coursework focusing on theoreticalcontent related to developmental disorders.Students enrolled in the internship program have theopportunity to take the following courses: SPE 200 – Introduction to DevelopmentalDisorders (4 credits)SPE 205 -Registered Behavior Technician Training(2 credits)SPE 210 – PEERS Mentoring (2 credits)SPE 499 - Internship (2-8 credits)The internship is open to students every fall andspring semester. Applications are accepted on arolling basis, and can be submitted at mountunion.edu/spectrum.
Spectrum Education Center1972 Clark Ave.Alliance, OH 44601SUPPORT THE SPECTRUM EDUCATION CENTERYour gift to the University of Mount Union’s Spectrum Education Center helps providetraining and education for those interested in autism intervention and advocacy.Visit giving.mountunion.edu today to make your gift quickly and securely. Be sure toselect “Spectrum Education Center” under “View all giving opportunities.”Want to support Spectrum with a different type of gift? Visit mountunion.edu/giving/ways-to-give to see all the ways you can support your favorite cause or contactMount Union’s Advancement Office at 330-823-2286 for more information.Contact us at:Phone: (330) 829-2830Email: [email protected]/spectrum
I am pursuing my master’s degree to become a BCBA from Ball State University while also working as an RBT. As an RBT, I teach everything from basic social skills to teaching a child how to communicate! If it wasn’t for Dr. Turko and the Spectrum Internship Program, I am not sure t