The Center for Autism Advocacy: Research, Education, and Supports (CAARES) conducts research, provides education, and delivers supports to better serve autistic and neurodiverse individuals in the classroom, workplace, and beyond. CAARES commits to be informed by autistic and Neurodiverse individuals, caregivers, and research. In partnership with Anderson Center for Autism, CAARES is working within SUNY Empire to build an Autistic Supportive College, deliver community and professional outreach, and provide career support for autistic and neurodiverse college students. It seeks to provide workforce development for professionals and business in increasing inclusive practices, conduct innovative research with and in support of autistic and neurodiverse individuals, and continuing to work in partnership with autistic and neurodivergent individuals and organizations across the globe.

SUNY Empire: An Autistic-Supportive College

Despite the growing number of autistic individuals who seek a college degree, the number of colleges addressing their needs is not growing fast enough. To date, no colleges offer supports for students with autism in fully online programs. CAARES in partnership with Anderson Center for Autism, is working on shaping an autistic supportive college through a multi-tiered system (MTSS) of support structure.

As CAARES heads into the 21-22 school year, we will work in partnership with SUNY Empire faculty and professional employees to provide universal supports for all students. Listening session and needs assessment findings will drive efforts to collaborate with faculty and staff to implement evidenced-based practices throughout all offices and coursework, such as streamlining procedures, clarity of expectations, and strategies and tools to increase self-management skills (i.e., executive functioning). A hierarchy of supports for faculty, staff, and students, such as consultation, peer mentorship, and workforce readiness training will be develop and implemented, with the overarching hope of better serving autistic and neurodiverse students through supports that benefit our entire college community.

We are proud to be led by an MTSS implementation team spearheaded by autistic individuals and caregivers within the autism community. The team also includes members of SUNY Empire faculty, data scientists, and behavior analysts.

Featured in the media:

 Grants received: 

  • Organization for Autism Research (2021-2023) 

Community and Professional Outreach

Parents, teachers, employers, and service providers need access to up-to-date, accurate information about autism. Working with partners across New York state and around the world, the center will provide that information, as well as education and training to parents, professionals, employers, community organizations, and others who support autistic and neurodiverse individuals. Please contact CAARES at autism@esc.edu if we can support you in this way, or for partnerships.

Career Support for Autistic and Neurodiverse Individuals

Coming Soon: CAARES is eager to support Autistic and Neurodiverse adults to identify and secure careers that align with their values and professional goals.

For posting, contact autism@esc.edu.

Workforce Development for Professionals Who Serve Individuals with Autism

To help meet the increasing need for professionals who work with and support individuals with autism, the Center for Autism Inclusivity will develop academic programs that prepare professionals to work with those who have autism and provide career pathways for current professionals to hone and advance their skills.

Transfer Credit for Professional Certifications

The center has partnered with SUNY Empire’s Center for Leadership in Credentialing Learning to conduct a Professional Learning Evaluation (PLE) of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s (BACB) Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) credential and two trainings offered by Anderson Center for Autism: The Direct Support Professional and Approved Medication Administration. These evaluations provide up to 13 college credits toward an associate or bachelor’s degree at SUNY Empire for anyone with the RBT credential and any direct care staff who completed the two Anderson Center for Autism trainings.

Targeted Degree Programs

SUNY Empire, with the Anderson Center, is launching a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program in spring 2022. The M.S. in ABA program's fully online curriculum is paired with required clinical experiences to provide a rigorous, yet flexible program that prepares students to become Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBA) and New York State Licensed Behavior Analysts. Applied Behavior Analysts focus on the science of human behavior and the program emphasizes compassionate behavior change. Students may enroll full- or part-time and can complete the 41-credit program in as little as two years. Learn more at www.esc.edu/aba or by emailing grad@esc.edu.

Partners, Collaboration, and Initiatives

CAARES is grateful for the partnerships and collaborations that bring its initiatives to life. If you would like to partner or collaborate, please contact CAARES at autism@esc.edu.

  • Partners in Applied Behavior Analysis 2022 Conference – CAARES with Anderson Center for Autism will host the second annual conference, “Promoting Quality of Life Across the Lifespan” on November 18, 2022. To register, read more about the conference/its sessions, or to become a sponsor, please visit the website: www.esc.edu/abaconference.

Innovative Research

In collaboration with external partners, the center faculty and staff will conduct applied research on methods, tools, and practices to support autistic individuals. If you are interested in a research collaboration, contact CAARES at autism@esc.edu.


Current News and Events

SUNY Empire's Autism Center Gets a New Name

SUNY Empire State College Officer in Charge Nathan Gonyea announced the Center for Autism Inclusivity's new name, Center for Autism Advocacy: Research, Education, and Supports, on Friday, November 12, 2021. Our new name more closely represents the center’s goal of supporting students with autism, providing the autism community with up-to-date research on autism spectrum disorders, and educating faculty and staff on how to meet the needs of students with autism in online and in-person learning environments.

CAARES is the Proud Recipient of an Organization for Autism Research Grant!

This grant will enable the development of a multi-tiered system of support framework to embed universal practices in development of an autistic supportive college. You can read more about the grant here: https://researchautism.org/creating-an-inclusive-and-supportive-campus/.

Announcing the New Center Assistant Director

Introducing Dr. Lauren Lestremau Allen, Assistant Director of the Center for Autism Advocacy. Dr. Allen is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Licensed Psychologist (NY, MD), and a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. She joins SUNY Empire State from the Ivymount School, a non-public special education school in Rockville, MD. As a Program Director at Ivymount, Dr. Allen oversaw a program of approximately 80 students with developmental disabilities across elementary, middle, and high school divisions. She worked closely with students, families, and a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to support students to achieve their educational, independent living, post-secondary education, and employment goals. Committed to high quality service and support delivery for autistic individuals and individuals with developmental disabilities, Dr. Allen is passionate about training professionals and has served as an adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University and Ball State University, where she taught applied behavior analysis courses and practica. Dr. Allen completed her doctoral schooling in school psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi and her predoctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship in Behavioral Psychology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute through the Department of Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. Dr. Allen’s areas of interest include the optimization of evidence-based instructional practices for autistic individuals and individuals with developmental disabilities across academic and adaptive skill domains, training and supervision of professionals, and transition-related issues for autistic individuals and individuals with developmental disabilities. Dr. Allen is excited to join the SUNY Empire State team and to work with Dr. Syed in CAARES.

Announcing the New Center Director

The center is pleased to announce the hiring of its founding director, Noor Syed, BCBA-D, LBA-LBS. Syed holds a Ph.D., M.Phil, and M.S. degree in applied behavior analysis from Teachers College, Columbia University and a B.A. in psychology applied behavior analysis from Binghamton University. She is a board-certified behavior analyst – doctoral and a licensed behavior analyst/specialist in New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. She also holds birth-to-second-grade teacher certification in general education and special education. She currently serves as a verified course sequence coordinator for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board and as an authorized continuing education provider coordinator for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. Prior to joining SUNY Empire, Syed was a professor of practice and the clinical director of Lehigh University Autism Services and the director of international partnerships for the Global Autism Project. Before academia, Syed worked in a variety of professional settings as a applied behavior analyst and special-education teacher.

Question and Answer Sessions

To ensure that the Center for Autism Inclusivity-Anderson Center partnership is grounded in the real-world needs of individuals with autism, their communities, and organizations that serve them, the Center for Autism Inclusivity and Anderson Center are embarking a virtual listening tour. Over the next several months, SUNY Empire, Center for Autism Inclusivity, and Anderson Center leadership will hold a series of question and answer sessions across New York state to learn firsthand about stakeholder needs and how the Center for Autism Inclusivity-Anderson Center partnership can help address those needs.

Recordings of Past Sessions

 Please send your inquiries to autism@esc.edu.