Lt. Gov. Brian Calley will be on the Western Michigan University campus Friday, Sept. 11, to help launch a critical new resource center for Michigan families that have children with autism.

Calley will join State Sen. Margaret O'Brien and WMU President John M. Dunn for a noon ribbon cutting and grand opening of Western's Evaluation Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental disorders--known as WECAN. The new center is part of WMU's Unified Clinics in the University Medical and Health Science Center, which is located at 1000 Oakland Drive and is also the home to the WMU Stryker School of Medicine Clinics.

Also taking part in the ceremony or part of the visiting state delegation will be:

• Dr. Stephanie M. Peterson, chair of the WMU Department of Psychology,

• Dr. R Wayne Fuqua, WMU professor of psychology,

• Dr. Ann Tyler, associate dean of WMU's College of Health and Human Services,

• Lisa Grost, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Manager of Autism Spectrum Disorder Program, and

• Farah Hanley, MDHHS Deputy Director of Financial Operations.

WECAN is part of the University's new Autism Center for Excellence. Families will be able to visit WECAN and work with an interdisciplinary diagnostic team specializing in autism spectrum disorder to have children's skills assessed along with family needs. They'll receive a diagnosis along with individualized treatment recommendations, if appropriate. The assessment will be based on high-quality, autism-specific assessment tools, observation, interviews and the team's clinical expertise.

The opening event is by invitation only. The center will be open to receive clients on Sept.14.

WECAN is one of several elements to the WMU Autism Center for Excellence funded by a special $4 million appropriation by the Michigan Legislature. The funding for service and training is designed to increase Michigan's capacity to train professionals so that families will not have to wait so long for diagnosis and treatment services.

For more information or to arrange or confirm coverage, contact: Cheryl Roland at WMU by email at cheryl.roland@wmich.edu or by phone at (269) 387-8412.