Trustees green light new autism support center

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Center will integrate UVU and community programs


Jeanette Blain | News Editor | [email protected]

Photo courtesy of UVU Marketing


The UVU Board of Trustees approved the construction of a new autism center June 25. The 10,000-square-foot facility is expected to be built near the McKay Education Building, however the plan still needs to be approved through the State Board of Regents and the State Building Board.

The center will include therapy rooms, two sensory playgrounds, a learning garden and a water table.

A recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 1 in 54 children in Utah were identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The center will be funded with private and business donations, including an initial gift donated by Keith and Melisa Nellesen.

Keith Nellesen, a co-founder of Vivint, said in a written statement, “At UVU, researchers approaching the puzzle from different perspectives can share their ideas and find the best solutions. If professionals come out of UVU with a greater awareness of the challenges of autism and with the skills to unlock the doors, we can help literally thousands of families.”

UVU currently provides support for students identified with ASD through the Passages program. The school also offers education and training through the Autism Studies program.

Laurie Bowen, Passages coordinator, said the new center is exciting because it will integrate services in a way that will better serve the school and the community.

“UVU provides an opportunity like no other for organizations to come together,” Bowen said.

In the past there have been service holes in the community, according to Bowen. The program will create a stronger workforce with an army of professionals trained to deal with the different types of unique situations that arise from working with ASD individuals. It will also create a haven for students living with autism who might be overwhelmed by the entire campus.