St.Louis, MS – Lois J. Blackwell, a pioneer in autism therapy in Missouri, has passed away of the age of 87.
Blackwell had been internationally recognized as an expert in the field within which she had dedicated her life, subsequently helping hundreds of families provide treatment for their loved ones. As founder of the Juvedine Center for Autism Maryland Heights, an international training center, Blackwell traveled widely and was ultimately honored with countless awards throughout her career.
However despite her various accomplishments in the field of autism intervention, Blackwell herself had never had the opportunity to receive formal training in the field before securing a secretarial position in Washington University’s Sociology Department.
There, she worked in its autism laboratory where she helped families of children who had been diagnosed with the disorder, resulting in Blackwell choosing to open the center in 1970. However both she and the facility faced numerous setbacks over the next 35 years including financial difficulties, a rift within its board of directors as well as unpaid taxes. The challenges prompted her to come out of retirement in 2009 in order to restart and restructure Juvedine, resulting in it becoming a 5-site facility providing care for 200 individuals per year. Her granddaughter sums up Blackwell’s dedication and tenacity regarding the center stating:
“She saw nothing as unattainable.”