NMSU unveils renamed autism diagnostic center


The New Mexico State University College of Health, Education and Social Transformation hosted an April 26 ribbon cutting for the newly named Papen-Aprendamos Autism Diagnostic Center in O’Donnell Hall, as well as the newly named Aprendamos Intervention Team, P.A. Lecture Hall.

Abel Covarrubias, who provided major funding for the diagnostic center, attended the event, along with former New Mexico State Sen. Mary Kay Papen of Las Cruces, who first proposed the facility through legislation.

“It has always been my goal to make a difference in the lives of others, and creating this center is clearly a dream come true for giving back and helping those in need,” Covarrubias said.

He is the founder and CEO of the Aprendamos Family of Services, which provides early intervention services for children ages 3 and younger and their families, as well as additional services for individuals and families of all ages.

The Spanish word aprendamos means “let’s learn” and pays tribute to the center’s focus on training NMSU students and multiple community organizations to diagnose and treat autism. Staff-initiated autism-specific evidence-based training is also offered for parenting children with disruptive behaviors, as well as increasing teen social skills.

Through Covarrubias’ contributions, a lecture hall inside O’Donnell Hall was refurbished, upgraded and renamed. In addition to classes in health, education and social transformation, the classroom is also used for meetings of student organizations and many other activities across campus. Apart from this gift, Covarrubias and his wife created an endowed scholarship in education, as well as the Aprendamos Intervention Team Endowed Scholarship.

Other Aprendamos contributors include Danny Palma, Monica Marrujo, Kerry Linnan, Kerry Palma-Szalay, Dean Palma and Bryan Tierney, many of whom are alumni of the NMSU Communication Disorders program.

The Papen-Aprendamos Autism Diagnostic Center is the only center in southern New Mexico providing evaluations for the medical diagnosis of autism. The center consists of a large, interdisciplinary team experienced in autism, differential diagnosis and comorbid conditions across all age ranges.