The Virginia Tech Autism Clinic & Center for Autism Research and their Mobile Autism Clinic will receive national recognition as an “exemplary program” by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Virginia Tech is one of four universities to receive the designation, which recognizes programs that demonstrate how colleges and universities have redesigned their learning, discovery, and engagement missions to become even more involved with their communities. A team of community engagement professionals from public research universities judged this round of the award.

The recognition is part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Engagement Scholarship Awards program, a partnership between the APLU and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium. The virtual recognition presentation will take place at 2 p.m. Oct. 13. The program is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required.

Angela Scarpa, a professor in the Department of Psychology, part of the College of Science, launched the mobile clinic in 2018. A converted recreational vehicle, the clinic provides clinical care, support, and therapy sessions for families and children who have autism spectrum disorder, a group of developmental disorders that impacts a person’s ability to communicate and function socially in many areas of life. The mobile clinic serves the counties of Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth, and Wythe, and the city of Galax.

The Virginia Tech Autism Clinic & Center for Autism Research in Blacksburg, among the only autism specialty training clinics and research centers in this region of Appalachia, empower individuals touched by autism through access, education, evidence-based services, and research.

Susan E. Short, associate vice president for engagement with Outreach and International Affairs, helped craft the program’s nomination.

“It is so gratifying to see Dr. Scarpa and her team of student clinicians and dedicated faculty and staff receive recognition for the important work they are doing,” Short said. “They truly exemplify the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), merging science with service by way of training, multidisciplinary research, engagement, and scholarship.”

Earlier this year, Scarpa and rural outreach director Jennifer Scott received the VT Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence for their work with the mobile clinic. Though COVID-19 has forced the mobile clinic to be parked, Scarpa and her team, and the Department of Psychology’s clinical science program, have moved in-person therapy, diagnosis, and care to an online format using HIPAA-compliant Zoom software.

“It is such an honor for the Virginia Tech Autism Clinic & Center for Autism Research to be recognized as an exemplary program for engaged scholarship,” Scarpa said. “Through our Mobile Autism Clinic, we have been fortunate to work with outstanding community partners, including Mount Rogers Community Services and CA Human Services, to conduct research that improves access to crucial autism services and to deliver these services in rural Southwest Virginia. Our goal is break down the barriers so that all Americans will have equal access to evidence-based autism services regardless of where they live.”

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