New UAH ELC program could change how ASD students learn

Early Learning Center

Students at the UAH Early Learning Center enjoy story time from a "Cat in the Hat," storyteller.

Michael Mercier | UAH

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) Early Learning Center (ELC), is now accepting applications for enrollment in a new program this fall for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The neuro-developmental disorder (affects the growth and central nervous system) impairs a child's ability to communicate and interact with others. ASD impairments may include poor or delayed acquisition of social skills, communication skills, social language (pragmatic) skills, play skills, peer interactions, sleep patterns, attention problems and sensory problems.

The ELC ASD program is designed to work with children ages three to five years old and offers:

  • Research based curriculum
  • A three to one student-teacher ratio
  • Speech therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Contracted Board Certified Behavior Analyst
  • Sensory room
  • Inclusion with same age peers as appropriate
  • Breakfast, lunch and snack

"We are establishing a quality program for preschool aged children with autism," said Deana Aumalis, Director of the UAH Early Learning Center and RISE School. "I am a mother of a child with autism and have been a teacher/advocate for children on the autism spectrum. I know there are very few programs that have a full inclusion spectrum of services to offer in our state and across the nation. I want our program at UAH to be the best program possible for each individual child and their family."

Aumalis noted that recent research indicate toddlers and children benefit from early educational inclusion services, and the programs may lead to increased social language behaviors.

UAH ASD program hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m., to 2:30 p.m., $1,200/month; before school care, 7 a.m., to 8 a.m., $80/month; and after school care 2:30 p.m., to 5:30 p.m., $200/month.

The ELC, RISE School is located on the UAH campus at 301 Sparkman Drive—115 Early Learning Center, Huntsville. For more information, please call 256.824.4750 or visit:



Deana Aumalis
Director, UAH ELC, RISE School