The Behavioral Education, Analysis and Research (BEAR) Center at NMU provides critical therapy services to children with autism and other behavioral disorders, both at the campus clinic and at practicum sites across the Upper Peninsula. Students who have to travel offsite now have a safer, more reliable mode of transportation than their personal vehicles, particularly in winter driving conditions.
In October, the BEAR Center received two new Ford Edges through a partnership between the Ford Motor Company Fund, Fox Motors of Marquette, the NMU Foundation and NMU. The cars have been branded with NMU wraps. They will travel as far as Menominee on a daily basis.
“Some students don't have the financial resources to maintain a vehicle with the winter weather,” said Jacob Daar, BEAR Center director. “The Ford Edges will help to alleviate that concern, especially since students are typically seeing clients late in the day, driving back in the dark. This also enables students who don't have cars and wouldn't otherwise have a placement offsite to receive a more varied experience that aligns better with their goals.”
Master's student Kendra Bloom said she could not make it to a few appointments because she had difficulty traversing snow-covered roads with her small, front-wheel drive vehicle. As a clinical supervisor for the NICE Community School District in western Marquette County and Pathways, master's student Collin Hahn typically travels to multiple locations in a day.
“It is not uncommon for consulting behavior analysts to travel four to six hours a day to see clients,” he said. “There are families from farther out in the U.P. who might have an interest in our home consultation services. The cars will make it easier to send students to those communities.”
The BEAR Center's Focus Behavior Program provides up to 24 hours of assessment and consultation to youth up to age 16 in their homes. Daar said with the new Ford Edges and insurance billing, NMU may be able to expand the coverage area to serve more families.
The cars are also helpful for student travel downstate to the Michigan Autism Conference and the Behavior Analysis Association of Michigan Conference, as well as training sessions for student participants in Michigan's LEND (Leadership, Education and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) program.