On Tuesday a group of leaders from Life Skills Autism Academy and the Plano Chamber of Commerce gathered to celebrate the opening of a new center offering high quality early intensive Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy to help young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) acquire the skills to live independently and succeed in the world on their own terms. Life Skills Autism Academy will begin offering services to children in the community on September 3.
The Academy is believed to be the first of its kind in Texas – possibly the United States – offering individualized therapy plans for all enrolled children and is inclusive of meals and diapers. As research shows, ABA therapy is most effective when started at a young age. Life Skills Autism Academy is ideal for young children, starting at 18 months of age, who may be enrolled for as much as 35-40 hours each week. ABA therapy is the standard-of-care, preferred treatment for ASD and is the only evidence-based behavioral therapy proven to treat the core symptoms of ASD or ASD-related disabilities and to support long-term outcomes.
Life Skills Autism Academy’s motto – “A Commitment to Success” – speaks to the shared goals of families, clinical experts, and Academy leaders as they commit in partnership to the success of every child with ASD. The classroom-based environment at Life Skills Autism Academy is designed to help young children prepare for school in the near future, but there is also play space for practicing social interactions and “getting the wiggles out.”
“Our Board Certified Behavior Analysts develop an individualized treatment plan for each child that is as unique as they are to help them develop the communication and social skills that can reveal their true potential,” said Kim Gorham, clinical director at Life Skills Autism Academy. “In addition to serving as the Clinical Director for Life Skills Autism Academy, I’m also a mother to two wonderful boys who are on the autism spectrum, and have seen firsthand what is possible when you dedicate a full-time commitment to help your child thrive.”
The partnership with families extends to flexible Academy hours designed to accommodate busy schedules, which is ideal for today’s working parents.
“Over the years we have heard from parents that although they know their children diagnosed with ASD need more intensive therapy, familial obligations require them to work outside the home. We saw there was a gap between the significant needs of some children and the resources available to overwhelmed parents. We launched Life Skills Autism Academy to address the unmet needs of those parents and children,” said Treva Fairman, vice president of Life Skills Autism Academy.
ASD is an urgent public health priority in the U.S. As of 2018, an estimated 1 in 59 children have been diagnosed with ASD. Of the 3.8 million children born in the U.S. in 2017, between 65,000 and 70,000 are expected to meet the diagnostic criteria for ASD in 2019. Furthermore, a 2019 nationwide survey conducted by Centria Autism of 1,000 parents of children with ASD ages 10 years or younger found that on average, there is at least a 15-month delay between the time parents first suspected a developmental issue and the onset of treatment. Such delays result in lost treatment opportunity which can negatively impact a child’s overall development.
The Plano location is designed to accommodate 65 enrolled children, and with therapy being so highly individualized, the Academy will be looking to hire approximately 100 people. Many of those will be behavior technicians, who Life Skills Autism Academy will train to work directly with children. For adults seeking a rewarding career change – or a return to the workforce – it’s an opportunity to become a key member of the therapy team. Interested applicants should visit LifeSkillsAutismAcademy.com/careers for more information.
For more information on Life Skills Autism Academy, visit www.LifeSkillsAutismAcademy.com.