Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Expansion of Southeast’s autism center

Monday, December 3, 2018
Southeast's autism center will be expanding its services to Sikeston, Missouri.
Photo by Madison Little

Southeast's Autism Center is now expanding into Sikeston, Missouri, to allow more patients to be treated closer to home and allow more students to take part.

Autism Center director Renee Patrick said there is a “great need down there.”

She said families who bring their children for treatment living farther south in the state find the drive prohibitive.

“Some of our children who have early intensive behavior are coming up here for three hours a day, four days a week which is a lot when you put in drive time of a couple hours,” Patrick said

She said they have about three families coming up here every day for services and they wanted to make it more accessible.

“We have families turn us down because they cannot do the drive,” Patrick said.

She said in addition to the travel time, some families cannot afford the trip.

According to, the Southeast’s Autism Center’s mission is to improve the quality of life for those with a developmental disability by providing support for families, professionals and the community.

Patrick said the center hires a lot of Southeast students that come from mostly human services [eduction, psychology, social work and more] to work with kids, they provide the students with registered behavior training to become certified.

“Implementation with fidelity is a big deal for us so that we know our treatment plans are working,” she said.

Patrick said the amount of awareness here in Southeast Missouri is a bit wider than some other communities.

“We have a really great grassroots group that consists of parents who have gotten together to spread the level of autism awareness by doing fundraising,” she said.

The center itself also has things they do to to spread awareness.

She said they have training on assessment, LAMP training and they do some presentations for emergency responders.

“My main goal for this center is to make it bigger and better,” Patrick said.

She said they have a great crew who are very eager and conscientious of their clients and work-- however, she would like to provide more services for more patients and expand them to special programs, like the the speech and ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) combination program they do for the younger kids. She would like to create more of these for older kids and adults.

The center has the special programs along with a Christmas activity they open to the public each year. They have a christmas tree which holds paper ornaments with an item written on each one; it is open for taking and donating that particular item to the center for the patients.