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Phone: (812) 855-6508
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Director: Cathy Pratt, Ph.D., BCBA
e-mail: prattc@indiana.edu

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Clarifying the Services of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism: What We Do and What We Don't Do

Contributed By: Dr. Cathy Pratt, BCBA-D



The staff of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism engages in a range of activities that impact individuals across the lifespan and across the spectrum of autism, family members, and the professionals who serve them. The intent of this article is to explain what we do and don’t do, and to clarify the services of IRCA.

The overall goals of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism are to conduct outreach training and consultations, engage in research, and develop and disseminate information on behalf of individuals across the autism spectrum, including autism and Asperger’s. 

The Indiana Resource Center for Autism’s efforts focus on providing communities, organizations, agencies, and families with the knowledge and skills to support children and adults, of all ages, in typical early intervention, school, community, work, and home settings.  We are university-based and part of Indiana University’s Indiana Institute on Disability and Community. 

Here is what we DO:

  • Develop and distribute an electronic newsletter. The newsletter is free to every parent, professional, individual on the spectrum and interested individual across the US. Topics addressed, include applied behavior analysis (ABA), structured teaching, communication, technology, personal management and many others. Training events sponsored by IRCA and held around Indiana are also highlighted.
  • Organize and conduct local, regional and statewide on-site training events. IRCA staff also work with local agencies and organizations to conduct workshops that meet their particular needs. IRCA staff has many years of experience and expertise in a wide range of topics, including structured teaching, applied behavior analysis, evidence-based practices in education, communication, social skills instruction, behavior programming and assessment, recreation, early intervention, technology (apps), personal management, visual supports, sexuality, and many others.
  • Conduct webinars and other online training options for family members, professionals, individuals on the spectrum and other interested individuals.  Topics for these webinars are similar to those provided at on-site training events.
  • Organize and conduct training events inviting nationally recognized speakers. Those whom IRCA has hosted include Jim Ball, Jenny Brack, Temple Grandin, Brenda Myles, Kathleen Quill, Paula Kluth, Michelle Garcia Winner, Vincent Carbone and his staff, Jerry and Mary Newport, Barbara Bloomfield, Emily Illand, and many others.
  • Engage in applied research. As a university-based program, a primary responsibility of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism staff is to conduct research. Strategies and policies that enhance the quality of life for individuals across the autism spectrum are a primary focus of research.  In addition, doctoral and other graduate students are supported in their individual research and service efforts.
  • Conduct a Needs Assessment survey, every three years, to gather data from families about the status of programs and supports related to individuals across the autism spectrum. This information is presented to Indiana’s Legislative Commission on Autism to inform policy and legislative decisions.
  • Operate a training and research clinic. IRCA has an assessment and social skills clinic in association with the IU School of Education’s School Psychology program. The primary focus of this clinic is on training and research. To find out more about the clinic, contact Dr. Scott Bellini at (812) 856-8260.
  • Assist in maintaining a library collection of relevant books, DVDs, and videos for public distribution. Indiana resident’s can check out materials from the library at the Institute (www.iidc.indiana.edu/cedir) and have materials mailed directly to their home.  This service is free for Indiana residents. Library materials housed in the Institute’s lending library collection are listed online as part of Indiana University’s library system at http://www.iucat.iu.edu/.
  • Maintain an active web site at www.iidc.indiana.edu/irca. The IRCA website includes articles written by staff members, a list of training events, and very valuable information about resources and services in Indiana. For example, IRCA maintains an updated list of professionals who can diagnose and assess ASD, and maintains an updated list of parent support groups across Indiana. Families can find extensive information about service options in Indiana and practical guidance on how to access these services.
  • Conduct outreach activities for families.  A listing of parent groups around Indiana can be found on the IRCA website.  In addition, each year, IRCA conduct numerous on-site parent support group meetings across Indiana.
  • Support students at Indiana University.   The IRCA created and supports the Students on the Spectrum club at Indiana University and Ivy Tech.  This is a self-directed club that provides a social network for students in Bloomington, as well as provides information that supports them during the university/college experience.
  • Maintain a Facebook page and have joined Twitter, in addition to our website.    These are easy tools to get quick information about our activities, activities around the country, and other related events.    
  • Train school-based teams, in Indiana. Every year, local special education planning districts are invited to organize a team to receive more intensive training in educating and supporting students across the autism spectrum. Once trained, IRCA staff is available to provide ongoing support to assist individual teams in achieving goals within their district.
  • Organize and continually work with a network of autism leaders across the state of Indiana, to support their efforts, as an extension of this team training. The list of autism leaders in every special education planning district can be accessed on our website.
  • Engage in individual consultations. Often times, IRCA staff are called upon to assist in crisis situations or to help move a program in a more positive direction.  IRCA staff is available to address individual needs by observing the individual in their natural settings, and collaborating with the person's team and family members to suggest appropriate services and supports.
  • Coach schools in the implementation of evidence-based practices. Extensive monthly coaching in individual schools has been provided across Indiana. Some of these demonstration sites are available for others to observe.
  • Conduct university coursework. Because of our association with Indiana University, IRCA staff teaches courses, guest lectures, and offer entire courses focused on autism spectrum disorders, social skill instruction, and other related topics. On-line coursework with modules is also available.
  • Participate in national/state/local organizations. IRCA staff members are also involved in various local, state, and national organizations in a volunteer capacity and serve on various boards and committees. This helps staff bring national initiatives to Indiana.
  • Perhaps the activity that keeps us the busiest is responding to the numerous emails and calls requesting assistance, guidance and resources related to programming and service options.  Every year, IRCA staff answers hundreds of requests for information about topics that range from behavior to insurance coverage.  As Indiana’s statewide autism center, IRCA is committed to responding with accurate and timely information that addresses the needs of individuals across the autism spectrum and across the lifespan.

While we engage in many activities, there are a number of activities that are outside our work scope. We can however refer families, professionals, and other interested individuals to programs that provide these services that IRCA does not provide.

Here’s what we do not do:
  • We are not a direct service provider. Children and adults with autism do not reside at the IRCA, nor do they attend ongoing programming provided at our center. Instead, our goal is to build local capacity by working within communities.
  • IRCA staff does not attend case conferences. There are other organizations in our state that can assist when advocacy is needed.  We are asked at times to assist with mediation related activities, and can negotiate that work. 
  • We are not a lobbying organization. As a university-based program, we are clearly instructed not to lobby. Instead, our job is to inform the state of the current status of services, available options, and model programs in other states. As part of this information providing process, we conduct a Needs Assessment Survey every three years and participate every fall in meetings of Indiana’s Legislative Commission on Autism.
  • We are not a funding agency. The Indiana Resource Center for Autism works with limited funds, and is not funded to provide financial assistance to families, professionals, or individuals across the autism spectrum.

Hopefully, this clarifies our work. If you have additional questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact the IRCA via email at prattc@indiana.edu or by phone at (812) 855-6508. Visit our website at www.iidc.indiana.edu/irca for additional information.



Pratt, C. (2011). Clarifying the services of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism: What we do and what we don’t do. Bloomington, IN: Indiana Resource Center for Autism.

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