3FROM THE PRESIDENTTo our Heartspring supporters,Throughout the past year, members of the Heartspring organization have worked diligently to continue our reputation as one of the most cutting-edge facilities of its kind. Our ever-expanding data collection system has now made its way into our Pediatric Services wing, as well as into the hands of professionals in our community. Notably, graduate students at the Wichita State University Evelyn Hundren Cassat Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic are currently testing an external version of our innovative application. Through this partnership, we are able to harness more feedback for greater improvements. We hope to continue this expansion of our technologies to benefit other organizations that share our mission for children with special needs.Heartspring’s technology initiative continues to push the limits, growing further than we could have ever imagined. We recently acquired two robots—which could prove to be a key tool in teaching children with autism about human interaction. Known as NAO Humanoids, the robots are fully programmable; they can recognize objects and faces, speak, play games, dance and other interactive features. We are currently in the process of testing this new technology with our outpatient services and plan to introduce them into our school program. While these robots have garnered recognition from news outlets both nationally and internationally for their capabilities, our hope is that they will have a more profound effect on providing children with autism a better opportunity to learn and translate social interaction. With the growing number of autism diagnoses, Heartspring continues to fortify the push for more programs suited to fulfill the need for effective programming in all departments. As an organization with a foundation built upon proven and evidence-based practices, Heartspring continues to emphasize the importance of staff training and education in our school. In September, every direct care professional received extensive training on structured teaching and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) methodologies. ABA is the application of the science of human behavior and involves systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree. It demonstrates that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior. This set of principles and procedures are among the few interventions that have been demonstrated to be effective for addressing the challenges for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. While we concentrate on this research-driven approach in our school, we are also implementing more programs for ABA within Heartspring Pediatric Services that are available to our community. Encouraging awareness has also played a significant role in our organization’s growth. Heartspring’s special events remain one of the greatest tools to connecting with the Wichita and surrounding communities. The rise in support that began last April with the 2013 Autism CARE Walk has been unprecedented, and we have continued that success well into the 2014 fiscal year. We saw appreciable increases in participation and fundraising at PedalFest 2013 and a renewed excitement at our most recent Lights on the Lake. We cannot thank the community, our sponsors and staff enough for their immeasurable dedication toward our mission. It’s because of you that this success and growth can remain an invaluable tool for families and children impacted by special needs. Gary W. Singleton, Ph.D.Gary W. Singleton, Ph.D., President & CEO3
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