State grant helps implement telehealth program for Autism Collaborative Center

The Autism Collaborative Center (ACC) at Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti, Mich.) are now able to help people with autism living in rural areas thanks to a $500,000 state grant. The grant will allow the staff to use a live video stream to evaluate and treat clients.


The Autism Collaborative Center (ACC) at Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti, Mich.) are now able to help people with autism living in rural areas thanks to a $500,000 state grant. The grant will allow the staff to use a live video stream to evaluate and treat clients.

“The grant will allow our staff to develop innovative programs such as using the web for support groups for adults with autism, or lending computers, cameras or flip cams to families,” said Pamela Lemerand, ACC director and professor of occupational therapy. “They can tape their child or family member demonstrating some of the difficulties the person is having at home or in the community, then return the equipment to the center. Then staff can consult with the family about possible interventions.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports autism cases in Michigan have skyrocketed from 4,700 in 2002 to 16,000 in 2010, with the average cost for treatment at around $50,000 per year.

According to Lemerand, there are numerous rural communities in Michigan where there is no money or available transportation for consultations, diagnosis or parent support.

“The need for a cost-effective program in Michigan, given the unemployment rate and economic downturn, is clear,” Lemerand said. “This initiative can be a national model of innovative practices.”