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Providing resources to families affected by autism is goal of new partnership

USC Chan Division teams with Rodney and Holly Robinson Peete’s HollyRod Foundation

As part of its ongoing commitment to understanding and providing family-centered resources to those with autism spectrum disorder, the USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy has aligned with the HollyRod Foundation.

“USC is home to a community of scientists and clinicians who are engaged in research and treatment to ensure that children, adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders and their families can fully thrive,” said Florence Clark, associate dean and chair of the USC Chan Division.

Together, HollyRod and USC strive to support the immediate needs of families and individuals affected by autism. From day-to-day needs of the family, such as ensuring each member has a valued role to prevocational training of the diagnosed child for successful transition into adulthood, the partnership hopes to empower all individuals that are impacted by an autism diagnosis.

The HollyRod Foundation was started in 1997 by actress Holly Robinson Peete and former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete ’89 after the couple’s eldest son, RJ, was diagnosed with autism. The foundation helped create RJ’s Place — safe havens in children’s hospitals and autism centers across the country that provide refuge for siblings of those with autism who might accompany them to treatment.

“Holly and I are thrilled that our dream of helping families living with autism is supported through a partnership with my alma mater,” Rodney Peete said. “We know firsthand that the annual cost for quality care is over $60,000 per child, which is far too high for most families to bear. We are truly excited to help these families provide their child with a solid start and to find ways to provide support throughout that child’s lifetime.”

USC is uniquely positioned to improve the lives of individuals and families living with autism, with top-ranked schools of engineering and cinematic arts, the No. 1-ranked occupational therapy program in the nation and a clinical partnership with one of the country’s leading children’s hospitals, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

“This unique alignment between the USC and the HollyRod Foundation will accelerate our mission of enabling people to realize their optimal potential for participation in the everyday activities that make life meaningful,” Clark said.

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