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Manchin visits Autism Training Center

The Parthenon

Published: Thursday, February 23, 2012

Updated: Thursday, February 23, 2012 09:02

United States Senator Joe Manchin visited the Autism Training Center on Tuesday at Marshall University.

The Autism Training Center at Marshall provides students who are underneath the autism spectrum with support in academic and social situations. It serves individuals at Marshall and at statewide level.

Manchin said programs, such as the Autism Training Center, could change the impact a person with autism has on society.

"With early intervention, proper training for the families and support," Manchin said, we can turn the person into a functioning adult and somebody who can contribute and give to society."

Barbara Becker-Cottrill, executive director of the West Virginia Autism Training Center, said the program serves approximately 37 students at Marshall and 2,000 individuals statewide.

The college program is sponsored by the Autism Training Center: "We developed the model that we use, and we hire the coordinator with our funds," Cottrill said. "So it is part of the Autism Training Center, but it is a sponsored program that we have at Marshall University. The rest of our work, our main mission, is all throughout the state."

Manchin said through meeting students who have been helped through the Autism Training Center program, he has seen the positive effects programs such as this one can have on students.

"A lot of people don't understand," Manchin said. "They think when you have these disabilities or challenges it is irreversible."

Manchin said he plans to look into a way to develop an online program that is accessible to all families who have children with forms of autism when he gets back to Capitol Hill.

Currently, there are autism Internet modules available to families, but those are not accessible to everyone.

"You need a way for a family, if they don't have a computer, to be able to go to the library and be able to print off information and directions that will help them," Manchin said.

As governor, Manchin signed a bill that allowed families who have children that fall under the autism spectrum to have up to $2,000 in tax deductions.  

Frances Lazell can be contacted at


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