Forest Institute Offers Autism Aid Through Several Opportunities

In recognition of National Autism Awareness month Forest Institute is reaching out to those affected by autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) by providing services and graduate level training.

Just last week, the Centers for Disease Control reported a 23 percent increase in children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders since its last report in 2009. One in every 88 children is now diagnosed, and in Missouri the same report showed one in 72 children diagnosed.

"Forest is prepared to help meet this need it two ways. First, we are now offering clinic services for children with ASDs up to the age of 14 at the Robert J. Murney Clinic,” said Dr. Michele Willams, Director of Forest’s Applied Behavior Analysis Program. 

"Secondly, we are one of only two schools in Missouri approved by Behavior Analyst Certification Board® to offer coursework and supervised experience for those training to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts® or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analysts®.”

Because children with autism often have difficulty interacting in typical environments, Forest is also hosting an autism friendly performance on April 14, 2012 at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm to allow families and children with ASDs an opportunity to attend an event where they can enjoy the entertainment together. 

The Spectrum Theatre Ensemble from Columbia, MO will travel to Springfield for the first time to present "Weird Beard, the Asperger’s Pirate.” The performance will be held at Forest’s Main Academic Building at 2885 W. Battlefield Road.

The performance is "autism-accessible" meaning it is "sensory sensitive”:

  • no special effects or loud volume
  • theatre house lights will never go fully dark during the performance
  • widely spaced seats to reduce "crowding” sensation
  • audience members are free to move, vocalize, hand-flap, get up during the performance, etc.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

For information on Forest’s clinic services contact the Robert J. Murney Clinic at (417) 865-8943.

For information on Forest’s Applied Behavior Analysis graduate programs contact Admissions at (417) 823-3477 or at