As parents of a child diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Eric and Deb Hench often felt frustration and isolation as they searched for suitable educational, health, and support services.
The Defiance couple worked hard to help school officials find the right classroom setting. They looked endlessly for physicians, dentists, therapists, psychiatrists, babysitters, and summer camps that were appropriate for youth on the spectrum.
Sometimes, after much searching, they found what their son needed.
Other times, they did not.
Seeing what he calls a core need in northwest Ohio, Eric Hench says there are few services "and a huge lack of information" about ASD, including challenges with sensory processing, emotional regulation, and executive functioning.
So it was that in 2007, equipped with 19 years of first-hand experience, the Henches sat down with Defiance College administrators to design an innovative program to address the multi-faceted needs of a growing population of individuals with autism.
The Hench Autism Studies Program at Defiance College serves as a focal point for teaching, scholarship and action to serve people with autism and their families.
The mission of the Hench Autism Studies Program is to educate Defiance College students for responsible service and citizenship - to produce committed professional leaders who will understand the importance of working with and on behalf of people with autism and their families as a way of improving the human condition locally and in the broader world. These students study autism as a complex intellectual question that requires education, compassion, and a commitment to understanding all forms of diversity. As a result, students will acquire invaluable skills to lead and serve within professional communities, whatever professions they may choose.
The Hench Autism Studies Program will critically investigate issues related to autism and their impact on individuals, families, and communities and prepare individuals to enrich lives and develop human potential at all levels.
What do people need? How can we do that?
As a dynamic, innovative, and service-oriented program, the Hench Program listens to what people - ASD individuals and families, educators, professionals, researchers, community members - have to say.
And then the Hench Autism Studies Program gets to work.
The Hench Autism Studies Program is currently exploring initiatives to address three areas of need:
The Hench Program strives to be a model for college-community partnerships working with ASD adolescents.
Help us make that happen.
Hench Austim Studies Program