Education briefs: Clinical autism services soon to be available in Rowan County

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 14, 2022

SALISBURY — Kelsie Hoilien, director of Applied Behavior Analysis services at Partners in Learning, is currently negotiating and securing contracts with North Carolina Medicaid and several private insurance companies, with plans to be able to start accepting clients in Rowan County within the next couple of months.

“ABA is the gold standard for the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders, and unfortunately, it can be extremely difficult for parents to find service providers in the area due to a lack of Behavior Analysts in the state, long waitlists for evaluation and diagnosis and, oftentimes, even longer waitlists to begin services once a provider is found. Once we are in our new facility, we will be able to serve a lot of clients and provide families in the community with a place where they can receive diagnostic assessment and treatment in the same place,” said Hoilien.

Families utilizing the clinical services through Partners In Learning will have access to evaluation, ABA therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, play therapy and occupational therapy. The center will be Rowan County’s first comprehensive Autism clinic with plans to train its teaching staff in the fundamentals of ABA in order to provide additional support to children with Autism in their classrooms. 

An estimated one in 44 children are diagnosed with Autism and one in six children are diagnosed with a developmental disability between the ages of three and 17 years old, according to the CDC.

“April is Autism Awareness and Acceptance month and we really wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of understanding the statistics, knowing the signs, and knowing where to get help,” said Hoilien.

Early signs of Autism include delayed speech development, repetitive motor movements or vocalizations, lack of eye contact and joint attention, delayed social and play skills, impulsivity, self-harm, limited interests and sensory sensitivities.

“We are so thankful for how the community has rallied around our Partnering For Our Future Campaign. Through generous private donors and grants, we have raised $10.2 million toward our $12 million campaign,” says Amy Vestal, development director.

The State Employee Credit Union Foundation awarded Partners In Learning a $1.5 million challenge grant for its clinical services, which will be named SECU Family Development Clinic. Partners In Learning provides early intervention services across 16 counties in North Carolina.

Partners In Learning has a comprehensive network of services in place for children with special needs regardless of family economic resources. The new facility will provide space for children to receive an expedited diagnosis and early therapy, offer more family support services and will include a 13 classroom education center.

The organization is still looking for donors to complete the new facility. There is still a naming opportunity for the Autism Clinic and individual therapy rooms. For more information about becoming a donor, contact Amy Vestal, development director, at

Catawba College presents “Our Song” on April 24

SALISBURY — Catawba College’s Shuford School of Performing Arts is presenting “Our Song” on April 24 at 4 p.m. in Omwake-Dearborn Chapel on campus.

“Our Song VII” will return after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19. Each spring, students enrolled in the Catawba Singers are invited to suggest choral music for their last concert of the season.  Now in its seventh year, this year’s concert will feature music of all genres ranging from Contemporary Classical, Spirituals, Broadway, Pop favorites and more.

The Catawba Singers are under the direction of Dr. Phillip E. Burgess, Dean of the Shuford School of Performing Arts.  Susan Trivette, Catawba College Collaborative Pianist, is the accompanist for the choir.

The hour-long concert is free and open to the public. 

Catawba College esports team lead successful spring semester

SALISBURY — The Catawba College Esports teams have had a successful season so far and a few were ready for playoffs that began April 8.

Catawba Halo has qualified for two playoff births, one in the Eastern College Athletic Conference and the other in the Ultimate Gaming Championship collegiate series. All matches are the best of five games. The first to win three games wins the match.

Catawba is seeded fourth in the ECAC nationally with a 6-2 match record out of 26 games played. In the UGC, Catawba is seeded second in the South Division Three with a 12-2 match record out of 45 games played.

The UGC South Division Three includes University of North America, Catawba College, Sam Houston State, Old Dominion, University of North Alabama, High Point University and South East Missouri State. The ECAC includes 35 college and universities.

The ECAC starting roster for Catawba includes Chris Little, Clay Brown, Ryan Tindall and Matt Pujals along with substitutes Ivan Ontiveros and Bryson Linkous.

Catawba’s UGC Roster includes Chris Little, Clay Brown, Ryan Tindall, Matt Pujals and Ivan Ontiveros.

The Super Smash Brothers Ultimate Team for Catawba ended their season after a loss in the playoffs. Their roster included Gabriel Vasquez, Sebastion Olvera, Rhyne Thorton and Nehemiah Butler-Moore along with substitutes Christian Basinger and Kirill Camp.

Carson Turlington represented Catawba College for League of Legends in the Victoris Amateur Draft, a league meant for collegiate and amateur players with aspirations to go to the professional leagues. Carson is the current front runner to win MVP of the split, rookie of the split and make first team all pro.