New Exceptional Families Autism Center combines resources to provide state-of-the-art care

October 11, 2017

Beaumont Health and UM-Dearborn collaborate to advance care for children with autism.

The Beaumont Center for Exceptional Families and University of Michigan-Dearborn have collaborated to bring a new Autism Center, which includes an autism-focused cross-training program for students, healthcare providers and educators, to the Dearborn community.

The center is the first location in the area to offer clinical and educational services for autism diagnostics and treatment including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, social work and medical appointments with a physician in the center that blends with autism. There will also be access and inclusion with a preschool of typically developing children in a daytime preschool program.

“This joint initiative between university student educators and health practitioners is an opportunity for students and patients to receive both medical and therapeutic autism treatment,” said Susan Youngs, M.D., medical director of the Beaumont Children’s Center for Exceptional Families.

The new center offers an Applied Behavior Analysis approach to autism care that is widely considered to be one of the most effective treatment options for individuals with autism. It involves understanding individual behaviors and modifying the environment to encourage socially appropriate behaviors.

“ABA is tailor made to the individual patient,” said Jason Majchrzak, supervisor and board certified behavior analyst. “It’s a very personal therapeutic experience and it’s really derived from addressing the deficit the child has into meeting the goals of the parent and family so that their child can be successful.”

The goal of the center is to provide specialized training to behavior technicians and behavior analysts at the Beaumont Exceptional Families Autism Center, and educators at UM-Dearborn. These programs will help fill a void in the community.

Last year, Beaumont and UM-Dearborn were awarded a $750,000 grant by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to serve patients and families affected by autism throughout southeast Michigan. The funds, which are spread over three years, have assisted in the development of the center as well as the creation of new training, undergraduate and graduate programs at UM-Dearborn.

“The opening of the CEF Autism Center will allow UM-Dearborn to continue to advance our efforts to educate clinicians of the future who will become leaders in the field of autism,” said Stein Brunvand, interim associate dean, College of Education, Health, and Human Services, UM-Dearborn. “The ongoing collaboration between UM-Dearborn and Beaumont provides a unique opportunity for children and families to receive comprehensive, coordinated and culturally competent healthcare services for children with multiple disabilities, now including autism spectrum disorder.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism is the fastest growing, serious developmental disability in the United States. About 1 in 68 children in the U.S. has autism, and about 50,000 individuals living in Michigan are on the autism spectrum. Therefore educators with experience in this area are in high demand.

“We offer everything under one roof from diagnosis through treatment, and then we do follow-up visits, which no other program I am aware of offers,” said Michelle O’Connor-Teklinski, assistant director of the Center for Exceptional Families.

The Exceptional Families Autism Center is equipped with the newest technology to benefit students from one year old to age 18. The center can treat up to 60 children in morning and evening hours. All treatment spaces—both individual and group—have video and audio capabilities for clinicians, to allow students and even parents to observe participate in the child’s care remotely, without interrupting the session or making the child nervous.

 Other amenities in the facility include: 

  • A gross motor and sensory gym
  • A behavior room specially designed for the safety of disruptive children
  • An activities of Daily Living apartment with a fully functioning living room, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and a washer and dryer, to prepare young adults with autism on how to live independently
  • 3 staff offices
  • 11 treatment spaces
  • Remote observation where parents have access to observe their children remotely in therapy
  • Three exam rooms (in addition to the CEF exam rooms)
  • An Activities of Daily Living apartment with a fully functioning living room, bedroom, kitchen, a functional bathroom and a washer and dryer

“This program is unique to metro Detroit,” Youngs said. “The process of bringing this center to Dearborn has been illuminating and valuable for all of us. Along with helping patients and families, it will be a great learning center for ABA practitioners and educators of the future.”

To find out if your child qualifies for the Exceptional Families Autism Center or for more information about employment opportunities at the center, visit

For more information on ABA related programs at UM-Dearborn visit

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