New Academy in Plano Offers Therapy for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

The academy aims to teach children key life skills through individualized instruction, all while giving their parents access to more support and resources.

life skills autism

Life Skills Autism Academy has launched in Plano, offering early intensive Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy to help young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) acquire the skills they need to live independently and succeed on their own terms. 

The academy, which began offering services in the community on Tuesday, said it believes it is the first of its kind in the state.

“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,” Kim Gorham, clinical director at Life Skills Autism Academy, said in a statement.

Life Skills Autism Academy is an operating division of Richardson-based Centria Healthcare, a national provider of ABA therapy for children with autism and their families.

Life Skills austism

Visitors view a classroom during the grand opening of Life Skills Academy in Plano. Play space is available for children practicing social interactions and “getting the wiggles out.” [Photo: Courtesy Life Skills Academy]

The academy said research shows ABA therapy is most effective when it is started at a young age, so it accepts children as young as 18 months of age, whom can be enrolled for as many as 35-40 hours a week.

ABA is the standard-of-care and preferred treatment for ASD, and is the only evidence-based behavioral therapy proven to treat the core symptoms of autism or autism-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 leaders that work there.

As of 2018, an estimated one in 59 children has been diagnosed with autism, and that 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 autism in 2019, the academy said.

The Plano facility is designed to accommodate 65 enrolled children, and because the therapy is highly individualized, the academy expects to hire roughly 100 people, many of whom will be behavior technicians who will be trained to work directly with children.

Ultimately, Life Skills Autism Academy aims to fill a gap in the services provided to children.

“We saw there was a gap between the significant needs of some children and the resources available to overwhelmed parents,” Treva Fairman, vice president of Life Skills Autism Academy, said in a statement. “We launched Life Skills Autism Academy to address the unmet needs of those parents and children.” 

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