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The MAC Story

Angela Scarpa and her son when he was about 6

My name is Angela Scarpa.  I am in the Psychology department at Virginia Tech and direct the VT Autism Clinic in Psychology as well as the Center for Autism Research in the College of Science.  I wanted to share with you information on how and why our VT MAC came about.

The VT Autism Clinic opened in 2005 as a direct result of my son being diagnosed with autism one week before his 2nd birthday.  I quickly found out that services were limited in our area. The clinic, which is where we train psychology doctoral students, was established to fill this need. The Center for Autism Research opened in 2012, with the goal of merging science with service, through multi-disciplinary research. We now aim to expand our reach to medically under-served rural communities, starting with the catchment area of Mount Rogers Community Services (MRCS).  Because of the many barriers faced by rural residents in the Appalachian region (economic hardship, geographic isolation, lack of specialty providers), accessing appropriate care for their children or family members with autism can be difficult. Despite these barriers, rural families value a strong sense of community and family ties. We want to be part of the solution that builds on these strengths and help empower families with the skills that are scientifically known to work for children with autism.   

The launching of this project was funded through several sources. We received a grant from the Malone Family Foundation to hire a rural outreach coordinator and purchase the used RV from Chances Creek RV in Fancy Gap, VA.  The new wrap on the outside of the RV was funded by the tremendous generosity of Jerry Hulick, who is an alumnus of VT and has been very helpful in supporting our work through the years. 

We were also funded by the university’s Policy-SGA stakeholders through ISCE at Virginia Tech to conduct focus groups in the communities served by MRCS, which enabled us to better understand local perspectives and discover ways to improve access to care for those with autism.

In the upcoming years, we will continue to seek funding from a variety of sources to sustain and expand the innovative services of the MAC, while continuing to use it as a unique research and training clinic for our doctoral student clinicians.  If you would like to see our services continue and grow, we would welcome your financial support.  Visit our donation page to learn how you can support our MAC initiatives.

                                                                    - Angela Scarpa