After outgrowing its central Pueblo location due to increased demand for services, specialist autism support provider Family Support Center has opened a second office in North Pueblo to help meet the needs of the community.
The center, which works with children of all ages with autism spectrum disorders, will continue to operate its original practice at 1026 W. Abriendo Ave. and can now accommodate nearly 200 additional patients in its new location at 805 Desert Flower Blvd.
“We got to the point where we were definitely like, ‘We’re full,'” clinic director Melissa Smith said of the decision to open the new location.
“Which is crazy that even through the whole pandemic we are still growing because the need is there. Children don’t stop having problematic behaviors when a pandemic hits.
The family support center specializes in treating people with autism spectrum disorder – a condition related to brain development that impacts how a person perceives and socializes with others, often causing problems interacting social and communication.
In a 2021 analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC found that up to 1 in 44 children in the United States has autism.
“That’s a high rate,” Smith said. “So we know that with those kinds of numbers, there’s definitely a lot of need.”
Smith said the new Pueblo center will provide patients with the same speech and occupational therapy, and applied behavior analysis therapy the center specializes in, but with additional capacity, staff and patients in almost twice the building. bigger.
Applied behavior analysis is “essentially a learning and behavioral science,” Smith said; it helps people build skills in all the areas they need to be successful in their daily lives, whether it’s independent living skills, communication skills, school readiness or others.
“ABA is very focused on what’s called single-case design, where we’re going to look at this child and see if it works for this child. And then with research you can replicate that,” Smith said.
“With autism, being such a spectrum, we have to analyze things very individually. So I think a few of those things make it very unique.
“One of the other things that makes it unique is that we’re very focused on what’s observable and measurable. So maybe you go to a psychological therapy appointment – when you talk about your feelings, a lot of our kids can’t do that so we focus on what is observable and measurable: what are we looking at what are they doing and then we analyze the environment: what happened before it happened What happens after?
“So we’re seeing if there are any patterns and being able to really target where the deficits are and what we can do to help.”
Amy Corsi, director of human resources for the Family Support Center, which has three locations in Colorado Springs in addition to its two in Pueblo, said the center in North Pueblo will employ between 70 and 100 staff members and will be able to accommodate up to 200 patients.
In addition to ABA therapy, the center offers an early intervention program called Early Explorers and will offer speech therapy, occupational therapy and a program that aims to develop social skills.
The center’s team of ABA therapists, occupational therapists and its speech therapist work together to develop comprehensive, individualized plans for each patient.
“It will be great if (parents) can kind of have this one-stop-shop for all types of their child’s needs,” Smith said.
The new center held its inauguration on June 15.
The Pueblo family shares their experiences with ABA
When Pueblo mother Tracy Thatcher brought her son Jack to the family support center, it marked a return to ABA therapy after Jack was introduced to it at around age 5, but didn’t seem to react to the process. .
Jack, who is now 17, has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and ASD and Thatcher said Jack’s first round with ABA just didn’t seem to “click for him”.
“It brought him more anxiety than growth, I would say,” Thatcher said. “So we stopped that for a while and continued with public school and different therapies, a bit of speech therapy, and then whatever the school offered.”
When Jack was between 11 and 12 years old, Thatcher said he heard about the Family Support Center and saw it as an opportunity to give the ABA another chance.
She said that since Jack worked with the center she has seen him make significant progress, particularly in his tolerance for social situations.
“The growth we saw with him was definitely increasing that ability to be social and his desire to be in a group, in a crowd,” Thatcher said.
“The ABA just kind of helped him…kind of build his confidence so he wasn’t so scared or so anxious. Just like with anyone who can be a little antisocial or introverted, social situations make them anxious and with autistic children that’s (multiplied by) 20 million. They capture everything.
“So it just helps him cope with the environment, which can be overwhelming for anyone and certainly for children with autism.”
Thatcher said ABA has also helped Jack make breakthroughs in potty training, which he struggled with for most of his life.
Sometimes Jack’s progress even comes out of the blue.
“There were times when I would help him get dressed in the morning and he would just pick things up and put them on himself. And I’m like, ‘Whoa! I’ve never seen you do that. When did it happen?’ And I would attribute most of that to repetition and consistency of ABA, just helping out with simple life skills we all take for granted.
For more information about the North Family Support Center, visit fscautism.com.
Editor Zach Hillstrom can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @ZachHillstrom