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Home > News > Blogs > Partnership Working > Better Together

Better Together

Alan Somerville

Our Chief Executive Officer, Alan Somerville was a keynote speaker at the recent Special Needs Summit  held at Western Kentucky University.  Here, he talks to us about the experience.

Gordon Emslie is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Western Kentucky University. Gordon and I were undergraduates together when we first met more than forty years ago at the University of Glasgow. We met again for the first time in over thirty years last spring and Gordon described his university’s Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex and its autism programme. He was very interested in the Microsegmentation Project we conceived and manage and our efforts to bring analytical thought to the development of the Scottish Strategy for Autism. As a result I received an invitation to deliver two talks at WKU at their Special Needs Summit titled “Better Together” on 17th and 18th October. The talks covered the Scottish Strategy for Autism and Scottish Autism’s role in its development, together with the research agenda supporting the Strategy. The first was a public lecture attended by students and academics at WKU and the second was the keynote address at the Special Needs Summit. A report in the local press can be read here.

The Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex (CEC) at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is a community-university partnership that helps individuals and families realise dignity, independence, and productivity by providing services in these areas: Linda and John M. Kelly Autism Program (KAP), Vickie and Dan Renshaw Early Childhood Center (ECC), Betty and Dr. Page Talley Family Counseling Center (TFCC), the Preston Family Foundation Acquired Brain Injury Resource Program (ABIRP), the Family Resource Program, and the Communication Disorders Clinic (CDC). The Suzanne Vitale CEC prepares pre-professionals across disciplines while conducting research to enhance education and service.

The Kelly Autism Program (KAP) is designed to provide services to individuals from the age of seven through adulthood, who have been diagnosed along the Autism Spectrum Continuum, as well as their families. KAP also serves as a training opportunity for future professionals in a variety of disciplines. KAP programming includes: elementary school, middle school, high school and post-secondary participants including higher education, vocational training, and job support.

The CEC’s Director Yvette Getch and I found many things in common in our work and Scottish Autism now has some new friends and links with another academic institution. We intend to keep in touch.

My wife and I organised our main holiday for the year around the trip and apart from the five days we spent in Bowling Green we drove through Georgia and Alabama staying in Chattanooga at the Choo Choo Hotel before going on through Tennessee, to Kentucky. After leaving Bowling Green we drove south through Great Smoky Mountains National Park through North Carolina to the Atlantic Coast at Charleston South Carolina. I also made a minor pilgrimage to the Augusta National Golf Club – home of The Masters – on our way back to Atlanta for the flight home.

At the Great Smoky Mountains National Park