JMU Prof Starting Autism Support Group

RN Cites Severe Lack Of Resources In Area

Posted: May 15, 2014

HARRISONBURG — An assistant professor of nursing at James Madison University is starting an autism support group for parents of children with the disorder as a result of her recent research.

Julie Strunk, also a registered nurse, interviewed parents in 10 families about their healthcare needs. Strunk found a severe lack of resources for parents caring for autistic children between the ages of 9 and 18.

“They need assistance in managing the health care needs of their children, and so the subthemes [of the study] were that they felt like health care services were inadequate,” Strunk said. “They felt like they needed to be listened to. And they felt that they needed to educate themselves and others.”

Strunk is starting the support group with Debi Kipps-Vaughan, an assistant professor of graduate psychology. If they determine the group needs financial support to provide resources for parents, they will seek grant funding, Strunk said.

“We’re hoping to help meet some of these needs, like being able to disseminate the resources they need,” she said. “They really don’t feel like they get a whole lot of support medically or socially.”

Strunk said she hopes the support group will become parent-led and involve at least 20 families at first, eventually growing larger.

The group will meet for the first time at 7 p.m. on June 17 at Blue Ridge Hall on JMU’s campus. Child care will not be provided.

For more information, email Strunk at .

Contact Kassondra Cloos at 574-6290 or

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