Hogans open new McArdle Center for Early Autism Intervention
STEVENSVILLE — On Sunday afternoon, April 24, Gov. Larry Hogan and his wife, Yumi, cut the ribbon to open to the new McArdle Center for Early Autism Intervention, lat 210 Pier One Road, Stevensville. The center is the first of its kind in the Mid-Shore area, providing services for children ages of 2 through 8 diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, which includes a wide range of symptoms, skills and levels of disability. Symptoms may include difficulty communicating and interacting with others, repetitive behaviors and trouble functioning socially. Children are evaluated as mild, moderate, or severe. The rating provides a guide for how much assistance each child needs to be functional.
There is no cure for autism, and no one know what causes it. However, it has been found that early intervention with intense weekly therapy sessions can reduce the affects of autism tremendously, center founders said.
Autism is diagnosed in one out of every 68 a children in the U.S., which Hogan described as an “incredibly disturbing statistic” as he spoke briefly at the ribbon cutting, which was attended by nearly 100 people.
Hogan added, “Autism doesn’t discriminate. All the resources are here at the McArdle Center to help autisitc children at the most early ages.”
The center was founded completely with private funds.
Before Hogan spoke, Sajid Tarar, CEO of the Center for Social Change, addressed the gathering. He praised the work Hogan has done for the state, saying, “He (Hogan) has liberated the state of Maryland, and we’re all in good hands.” The compliment brought a rousing cheer and thunderous applause from the crowd.
“This center is God’s work (at the McArdle Center). These are God’s people being worked with here,” Tarar said.
Gary Mangum of Stevensville followed Tarar, speaking before introducing Hogan. He praised the creation of the center, and then added praise for Queen Anne’s County Public Schools for their work with children with special needs.
Mangum has a 20-year-old son who graduated from Kent Island High School who was evaluated as having very low IQ at an early age. In a private conversation after the ceremony, Mangum said, “The teachers and guidance counselors, particularly at the high school, worked with my son, helping him tremendously while he was there. In general, I think teachers are generally undervalued for the work they do for our children. Most teachers go way beyond the call of duty to serve our children. I don’t think they get enough credit.”
Mangum also praised Hogan, saying, I’ve learned that he (Hogan) is a very good listener, and uses that skill to help him make informed decisions in best governing the state. He genuially cares about people.”
The McArdle Center was originally created for the McArdle family’s identical twin daughters, Caitlyn and Riley, now 5 years old. Both are autistic, one more severe than the other. Their parents, Terry and Emily McArdle, moved to Kent Island from Annapolis four years ago, before the girls were diagnoised with autism.
“They moved here because of the positive reputation of the public schools in Queen Anne’s County,” said Amelia Foxwell, a volunteer at the McArdle Center, who has more than a decade of training working with autistic children. She works with the McArdle girls.
Foxwell added, “This area desperately needs the services of this center. The services needed are not provided at any public schools. Children are born with a pre-dispostion for sutism and may never show it.”
Costs for attending the center is $20,000 a year, far more affordable than places on the western shore.
Emily McArdle said, “We looked at many schools in the area. The costs for autism services range from the least expensive at $35,000 a year up to over $60,000. One thing we’ve learned is autistic children need consistent and constant services, year-round. If they have a two-week vacation, their skills regress. They need consistency.” April was Autism Awareness Month. McArdle can be reached at 410-5886583. The website for the center is: www.mcardleschool.com.
From left, McArdle Center Director Amelia Foxwell, founders Terry and Emily McArdle and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan holding a proclamation and a citation Hogan at the opening ceremony of center Sunday afternoon, April 24. Foxwell worked with the McArdle’s to open the school in Stevensville with private funds.
Sajid Tarar, CEO of the Center for Social Change, speaks at the opening ceremony for The McArdle Center for Early Autism Intervention, Sunday afternoon, April 24, in Stevensville.