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MU Autism Training Center Director named Professional of the Year

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Marshall University is now home to the Dr. Cathy Pratt Autism Professional of the Year.

Dr. Barbara Becker-Cottrill, executive director of the West Virginia Autism Training Center at Marshall was given the award at the 44th annual Autism Society of America Conference in Pittsburgh.

Becker-Cottrill has been executive director of the WVATC for the past 23 years. During that time, she has developed and implemented a comprehensive service delivery program for families and their children with autism spectrum disorders.

"It was truly an honor to receive this recognition from the Autism Society, and it has been a great honor to serve as the director of the WVATC," Becker-Cottrill said in a news release. "There are few statewide programs in the nation that provide direct services and supports specifically targeted for families of children with autism spectrum disorders of all ages."

Becker-Cottrill will retire from her position July 31. She said in the news release she plans to focus on autism research activities in the coming year.

"We have also done a lot of collaborative work with the West Virginia Department of Education, Office of Special Programs in the past few years which has opened up training and coaching opportunities for educators of students with ASDs," she said in the news release. "Marshall University has been a tremendous supporter of our work, and I am deeply grateful.

"I believe we have come a long way in the provision of evidence-based services for people with ASDs, and I know there is a long way to go."

Becker-Cottrill founded and co-developed the College Program for Students with Asperger Syndrom, which is at Marshall and sponsored by the West Virginia Autism Training Center. She also is co-author of the book, "Autism: A Primer for Educators."