Autism program gets new director

Michelle Elkins

Western Kentucky University has a new director to lead the Kelly Autism Program. 

Michelle Elkins, currently a clinical supervisor at the WKU Communication Disorders Clinic, will start as director Aug. 1. 

Elkins will replace Marty Boman, who retired in June after directing the program for more than nine years. Boman said in a previous interview she wanted to retire to be with her family in Arizona and Minnesota. Despite her retirement, Boman said she wants to continue her involvement in the autism field. 

“There’s so much to do and so much education that needs to take place,” she said last month. 

Elkins, who brings 21 years of experience as a speech pathologist, said she wants to continue to build off the strong foundation Boman left.

She wants to have an environment where kids feel they have a voice, she said this morning. 

“As a graduate of WKU and a life-long member of this community, I look forward to serving in this capacity,” she said in a news release. “I am honored to be entrusted with this responsibility and look forward to further leading and growing the program at the KAP. A strong foundation is already in place and I am delighted to assist those who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and their families as we foster an atmosphere of collaboration and partnership.”

Her experience working with kids who have autism has taught her that “they’re all different” and that you have to look at the needs of each individual, she said.

Elkins has been a supervisor with the Communication Disorders Clinic for three years. She said she has a nephew with an autism diagnosis. 

Founded in 2002, the Kelly Autism Program is in the Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex. The program’s goal is to offer an educational and social environment so that participants can become independent and employable citizens, according to the release. 

“We are delighted to welcome Ms. Elkins to KAP,” Clinical Education Complex Director Mary Lloyd Moore said in the release. “She brings tremendous knowledge and experience in autism spectrum disorders and will be an asset to the program. Her familiarity with the Bowling Green/Warren County community will serve well to continue to partnerships that have been established while forging new collaborative relationships. I look forward to the continued strategic development of programming at KAP under Ms. Elkin’s leadership.”

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