New Autism Resource Center Opens at Mansfield

Balloon basketball was an activity of the Sensory Carnival held at Decker Gymnasium in late November

MANSFIELD, Pa. – Mansfield University’s Autism Resource Center (ARC) opened this fall and hit the ground running. With the work of Dr. Alison Polly, Courtney Heatley, and students in the special education program, students from surrounding schools have attended activities this fall to further their social interaction and develop fine motor skills.

The ARC’s first activity in September involved sensory centers. Students were able to navigate through the classroom and participate in centers such as making stress balls, washing toy cars, painting, making sensory bins, and do-it-yourself playdoh. The children who attended this event were able to take their creations home.

To fit the seasonal festivities, October’s activity consisted of pumpkin decorating and a game day. Over a two-day span in October, a Therapeutic Game Training was held with presenter Jack Berkenstock of the Bodhana Group. Educators attended the interactive seminar to develop skills and strategies for using games with students who have disabilities.

In late November, an indoor sensory carnival took place. This included balloon basketball and other activities for children to increase their social interaction, and be exposed to textures, sounds, and sensory. The event was sponsored by the Mansfield women’s basketball team.

Mansfield students in the exceptionalities program who helped with the fall activities were Alivia Paeglow, of Albany, New York; Kaleigh Akins, of Waverly, New York; Jordan Miller, Davidsville; and Sydney Tubbs, of Wellsboro.

The center, located on campus in Retan 205E, will host a series of teacher development trainings for aspiring and current educators to expand their knowledge in the fields of inclusive practices, behavior data collection, and behavior intervention.

Along with the upcoming events, the Autism Resource Center is open for the public to borrow resources. These include a range of books, assistive technology, sensory materials, and games for parents and teachers working with special needs. Parent trainings are also being developed through the center.

Hours of operation for the ARC will be posted in January when classes resume. If an earlier appointment is needed, contact Polly at

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