Today, Congressman Jim Himes (CT-04) announced that Sacred Heart University will receive a $245,851 grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. The grant will train graduate students in speech-language pathology and occupational therapy the most effective way to teach reading and writing to children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). 


“Autistic children can face numerous unique challenges when learning how to read and write,” said Congressman Jim Himes. “Training educators on how to teach reading and writing to autistic children will change students’ lives. The CDC reports that one in 59 children in the United States is affected by ASD. As we learn more about this disorder, it’s more important than ever to have well-trained educators in Southwest Connecticut schools. I’m thrilled that Sacred Heart University will be implementing this training.” 


“The grant will allow us to develop a specialized curricula in our College of Health Professions programs to help our speech-language pathology and occupational therapy graduate student target skills that support learning to read and write as part of the services they provide to students with autism,” said Dr. Rhea Paul, Professor and Chair of Department of Communication Disorders at Sacred Heath University. “The grant will enable us to create a unique training program for our graduate students that deepens their understanding of autism and how it affects reading and other academic skills and gives them opportunities to work with professionals outside their own discipline on achieving success in reading for students with ASD.” 


According to Sacred Heart University, the grant includes scholarship assistance to SHU students who commit to working with students with autism in school settings for at least two years post-graduation. The scholarship support provided by the grant will enable greater access to Sacred Heart for students, like those from low income, minority, and immigrant backgrounds, who might not otherwise be able to attend the University. It will allow them and the children with whom they will work to benefit from the innovative curriculum developed as part of this project. Click here to learn more about the grant.