Anderson Center for Autism today revealed details of its newly rebranded ECHO initiative, which will now be referred to as ECHO Autism Anderson. The decision to rebrand the collaborative professional development experience (previously called ECHO Autism: Autism Best Practices) came on the heels of Anderson’s investment into a digital platform called iECHO. The updated identity will allow the organization to expand its outreach and add new project areas, all while continuing to grow its ECHO Autism Anderson: Education program, which has been building capacity for schools since 2022.
Executives at Anderson report that the online learning opportunities through ECHO Autism Anderson will now be even more accessible to people from all over the world – and that Anderson Center for Autism is better positioned to promote Project ECHO’s work to support inclusive, equitable education and lifelong learning, which are among the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goals.
ECHO Autism Anderson offers online sessions on a number of topics throughout the year to professionals looking to learn, collaborate, have cases reviewed, or discover ways to deliver evidence-based practices. All sessions are conducted virtually, and attendees can have questions answered in real time, regardless of their location.
Said Patrick Paul, CEO/Executive Director of Anderson Center for Autism, “ECHO Autism Anderson: Education has been very well-received and successful in supporting colleagues in the field. It allows professionals from all over the world to continue refining their teaching methodologies by engaging in critically important dialogue with experts from Anderson. And by harnessing the power of the iECHO platform, our team can remotely train people from districts that cannot afford to hire the specialists needed to support the unique needs of their autistic students. That said, we are really doing more than offering professional development opportunities; we are helping to address disparities that exist in society, and supporting students, teachers, school personnel, and families worldwide. Given the capabilities of the iECHO platform, we can also start considering other project areas aligned with our mission that can be rolled out in the future; we’re all very enthusiastic about the possibilities.”
The Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO®) was first developed at the University of New Mexico, when Dr. Sanjeev Arora created a learning model based on the belief that access to information would lead to greater community impact across a number of disciplines. One specialist, for example, can support the professional development of twenty or more local experts, who then bring newfound knowledge and practices to people who might benefit.
Kristin Sohl MD, FAAP, Executive Director of ECHO Autism, expanded that initial ECHO® model to the autism community. The pediatrician, who has extensive experience in neurodevelopmental disorders, serves as site principal investigator for the Autism Intervention Research for Physical Health/Autism Treatment Network (AIRP/ATN) and is the founder of ECHO Autism. Since inception, fifteen states and five countries have partnered with ECHO Autism to build capacity in order to better care for autistic individuals in their communities.
According to ECHO Autism’s website, “ECHO Autism takes the principles of ECHO and adds the components of interdisciplinary expertise, including the integration of parent expertise. Our interdisciplinary team advises providers across the country and even internationally to support best practices in autism care for medical, behavioral and education concerns. This innovative system allows professionals and caregivers to increase their confidence in identifying and treating autism and expand their knowledge about treatments and solutions.”
Explained Dr. Tina Covington, PhD., BCBA-D, LBA, Chief Operating Officer at Anderson Center for Autism, “We are so proud to be bridging gaps through our work with ECHO Autism, especially in underserved communities. ECHO Autism Anderson: Education has already garnered great results for the countless schools lacking the resources to hire professionals who specialize in evidence-based practices. Our virtual learning environment helps ensure that educators can acquire the knowledge needed to support better outcomes for autistic students. And we, in turn, can continue learning from others in the field who share our desire to maximize potential for everyone.”
ECHO Autism Anderson: Education sessions are all run by a ‘HUB Team’, which includes specialists such as a licensed psychologist/behavior analyst, a speech and language pathologist with feeding expertise; a licensed clinical social worker, and others who share very specific experiences and insights. During each session, school personnel present cases that are reviewed by the HUB team, and participants can pose questions that will help them better understand how to apply best practices in the context of their individual situations. Future project areas would likely follow a similar model to this ECHO education program.
Added Tracy Schober, MPA, Director of New Program Development and ECHO Autism Lead at Anderson Center for Autism, “This initiative provides a unique, easily accessible way for ECHO Autism Anderson session attendees to find out how experienced experts navigate different challenges and needs. We are all part of a growing autism care community, and by working together, we can empower others with the tools needed to feel more confident in their roles, which will give autistic and neurodivergent students every opportunity they deserve.”
Anderson Center for Autism will fund twelve ECHO Autism Anderson sessions in 2024.
Eliza Bozenski, Chief Development Officer at Anderson Foundation for Autism, shared, “As Anderson prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2024 and autism prevalence rates continue to rise, we want to continue to build on our tradition of leadership in the field. ECHO Autism Anderson is one example of how we are working to share our breadth and depth of knowledge in ways that can positively impact people from all over the world. We look forward to adding new projects to the ECHO Autism Anderson initiative, along with continuing to build out all of our other programs and services, for generations to come. Ultimately, we are committed to doing everything possible to carry out our mission of optimizing the quality of life for individuals with autism.”
For more information, email ECHOAutism@andersoncares.org or visit andersoncenterforautism.org/ECHO.
Learn more about sponsorship opportunities for ECHO Autism Anderson’s innovative learning exchange and future projects, contact Eliza Bozenski, Chief Development Officer, Anderson Foundation for Autism, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 845.889.9594.