Hench Autism Studies Program
As parents of a child diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Eric and Deb Hench often felt frustration and isolation as they searched for suitable educational, health, and support services.
The Defiance couple worked hard to help school officials find the right classroom setting. They looked endlessly for physicians, dentists, therapists, psychiatrists, babysitters, and summer camps that were appropriate for youth on the spectrum. Sometimes, after much searching, they found what their son needed. Other times, they did not. Seeing what he calls a core need in northwest Ohio, Eric Hench says there are few services "and a huge lack of information" about ASD, including challenges with sensory processing, emotional regulation, and executive functioning.
So it was that in 2007, equipped with 19 years of first-hand experience, the Hench family sat down with Defiance College administrators to design an innovative program to address the multi-faceted needs of a growing population of individuals with autism.
The Hench Autism Studies Program offers:
- An on-campus public school classroom for adolescents with ASD
- A summer camp for teens with ASD
- Specialized undergraduate peer mentor training and relationships
- An undergraduate minor in autism studies
- Professional development opportunities for educators, social workers, law enforcement, and medical personnel
- A resource center in the Pilgrim Library for students, professionals, community members, and families
- The ASD Affinity Program for college students with ASD