When the Scates started AutismUGA in 2008, many in the UGA community were unaware of the challenges faced by families with children with autism. Ryan and Kiel’s goals were to build awareness and raise funds so that local resources – like summer camps and support groups – could offer more assistance to families in need.
“Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 68 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorders,” Kiel said. “Chances are you know someone personally with autism or a family affected by an autism diagnosis.”
“People who were involved in AutismUGA went on to do wonderful things, including research on causes and treatments,” Ryan said. “It’s one of the things I’m proudest of from my time at UGA.”
Kiel pursued her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in special education from UGA. After graduation, she was certified in applied behavior analysis, a highly effective, evidence-based treatment method for individuals with autism. She now works as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in Atlanta at Integrated Behavioral Solutions, Inc.
Today, the Scates continue to commit to their passion by giving to the Automatic for Autism Fund, which helps families utilize UGA’s Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Clinic. Due to the high cost of raising a child with autism, many families cannot afford the clinical support their children need. The Scates’ gifts provide greater access to treatment and allow students to train in applied behavior analysis.
“I hope our gifts will help fund important research that will continue to impact how learners with autism access their environments successfully,” said Kiel. “I also hope more families will learn about applied behavior analysis and evidence-based treatments through the ABA Clinic.”