Connection Failure
Connection Failure

Meet a Roadrunner: UTSA's Lee Mason is helping teens manage autism

Lee Mason

Lee Mason

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(July 31, 2013) -- Meet Lee Mason. He's the visionary behind UTSA's autism center.

In January 2013, Mason opened the Teacher Education: Autism Model (TEAM) at the UTSA Downtown Campus. The center offers low-cost Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) services to children and teens with autism. It also offers a controlled training environment for UTSA graduate students in special education, educational psychology and related fields who want to earn their ABA certification.

In San Antonio alone, an estimated 9,000 children and 21,000 adults live with an autism spectrum disorder. But, only 30 board-certified behavior analysts are available to serve them.

ABA, which is most effective in 20-40 hours-per-week doses, requires therapists to systematically apply interventions based upon principals of learning theory. The goal is to improve socially acceptable behaviors in individuals with autism.

Last spring, the TEAM center primarily worked with preschoolers.

This summer, Mason and his graduate students are working with teenage boys who have high-functioning autism. The teens are learning to manage their autism in challenging and uncomfortable social settings such as dating and new relationships.

Mason, an assistant professor in the UTSA Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching, says the social skills clinic has been a great learning experience for both students with autism and the UTSA graduate students providing ABA therapy.

"We are very happy with the success of the TEAM Center over the past two semesters, but we have a lot of work left to do," he says. "We already have more than 100 names of children in need of UTSA's services on our waiting list. We are also hoping to expand the TEAM center's services into the evening hours, which would benefit school-aged children with autism."

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Do you know someone like Lee Mason, who is completely dedicated to San Antonio youth? Email us at social@utsa.edu so we might consider your submission for the next installment of Meet a Roadrunner.