Ladder Logo
La Salle Student with Autistic Child

La Salle Initiative Supports
Families Affected by Autism

The Need Is Great

A new urgency to understand Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has emerged as nearly 1.5 million Americans struggle to live with the neurological disorder.

"The reality is that children with autism are everywhere, and not all educators have the skill set to work with them," said Frank Mosca, Chair of the Education Department.

"The question is, how can our program help families who have to deal with it?" he said.

La Salle's Answer

La Salle's answer is the LADDER Family Center, or La Salle Autism and Developmental Disabilities Education Resources. According to Donna Tonrey, Ph.D., the pieces began to fall into place last summer with guidance from Joe Donovan, Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications and an organizer of LADDER. "What we're doing is quite unique," she said. "Joe had a vision that we have the resources at La Salle to fundamentally contribute to a real need in our society to address autism."

The center fits seamlessly with La Salle's mission to offer a practical education that benefits society. By coordinating its resources, the University developed a Certificate in Autism through the Education Department, an interdisciplinary initiative to support those affected by autism, and a spring autism conference.

The LaSalle Autism and Developmental Disabilities Education Resources (LADDER) Family Center

The LADDER Family Center is a unique opportunity to combine educational, community outreach opportunities, and clinical services for families and youth dealing with a variety of issues surrounding autism and developmental disabilities.  Over the past three years, an interdisciplinary team of faculty and staff has been working to develop the LADDER Family Center.  The primary focus is to provide an array of credit earning courses and programs, services to families and relevant research that will lead to improved services for the families of children with special needs.

La Salle has a variety of existing programs which address the needs of individuals with ASD and other developmental disabilities. The LADDER Family Center will enable the University to provide services to families, while also training students, in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.

Positive Expectations-Positive Actions-Positive Solutions

Our mission includes the ability to positively enhance the quality of life for youngsters and their families who are dealing with issues related to autism disorders and developmental disabilities.  Families are embraced as partners in the process to provide a unique, coordinated, and multidisciplinary experience to create positive expectations, actions and solutions in this goal.