Join us for
“All Out for Autism”
a benefit for the Arkansas Autism Resource and Outreach Center
Honoring Dr. Peggy Schaefer Whitby
Dinner * Cocktails * Live Music * Silent Auction * Live Auction
When: Thursday, November 9th, 2023 from 6:00pm to 10:00pm
Where: Rusty Tractor Vineyards,10 Rusty Tractor Lane, Little Rock, AR, 72210
Featuring the band “Shotgun Willie LIVE”
Purchase sponsorships or tickets at:
Dr. Whitby was the first faculty member hired by Dean Tom E.C. Smith at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, to build a team with autism expertise and a training program for behavior analysts, a credential that was, at that time, unavailable in Arkansas. After selecting additional faculty to join the team, Dr. Whitby connected with staff at UA/Partners for Inclusive Communities and began providing the quality assurance service for the Autism Waiver, a statewide early intervention program for young children with ASD. As that partnership developed, it was soon obvious that the program was not serving children from the Eastern part of the state in the Mississippi Delta because no referrals were being received, despite numerous efforts to distribute information about the program in the area.
With funding provided to UA/Partners by Senator Keith M. Ingram, the Partners’ staff and Dr. Whitby began a two-year campaign to build relationships in the community of Helena-West Helena. This process required the collaboration of trusted members of that community including Becky Hall, Director of UAMS East; Bess Ginty, Director of Kids for the Future; Suzanne McCommon, Director of Great Rivers Educational Services Cooperative, and countless others.
A Community Steering Committee was created with members from multiple organizations and entities across the community. The committee met monthly for two years, responding to the priority needs identified by the group. The committee determined that the top priority was to build capacity for diagnosis and treatment of ASD in the community of Helena-West Helena so that families and children were not required to travel to Little Rock for services. Since there were no behavior analysts in the area around Helena, Dr. Whitby began her campaign to identify individuals from the community who were interested in gaining the education and skills needed to acquire the necessary credential. She encouraged individuals to enroll in the online classes offered by UAF, supported them with tutoring and clinical supervision at home, and walked alongside them until completion of the process. She spent months living in Helena providing services for young children and mentoring the staff who were part of her training program. Thanks to her tireless efforts, several individuals from the Helena-West Helena have completed the UAF program and have become Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs). Also, the medical team at UAMS-East now provides diagnostic services at home for families who live in Helena and suspect that their child has ASD, and children from the region who need developmental evaluations are now regularly referred and are receiving early intervention services. The landscape for autism services in the Delta has forever been changed as a result of Peggy’s heart for children with ASD and the people who support them.