Ashley Wells tried for three years to get an Applied Behavior Analysis facility in Douglas County for her two sons, 5 and 7, who both have autism.
Wells finally got home-based services from Center for Autism and Related Disorders last year, and in May, got a full center in Roseburg.
Before the center started home visits in Douglas County, Wells said she didn’t have the tools to parent two boys with autism and she said “I lost my mind.”
“It was a really rough few years,” Wells said. “I was a stay-at-home mom and both of my kids having autism and being non-verbal, it was rough. I did not get through it very well. We barely left the house. It was a really dark time.”
CARD is the largest autism treatment provider in the world with more than 250 facilities nationwide according to its website.
Wells said the ABA approach has changed her family’s life.
“(My sons) were going through a really rough transition in life, so their behaviors were increasing,” Wells said. “Then the therapist from CARD stepped in — they were doing home visits at that time. Within a month or so, my youngest was like a whole new kid, totally different.”
Lisa Doggett is the operations manager for the facility at 940 NW Garden Valley Blvd.
“We needed a service in this area,” Doggett said. “We are about two hours away from the nearest center. We definitely have an increase in need in this area and we’re servicing quite a large area since our nearest centers are in Eugene and Medford.”
The center has six therapists working under the supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst to create lesson plans and programs for patients to work on creating positive behaviors.
“It’s any age group right now,” Doggett said. “If they have the diagnosis for autism, then we are absolutely able to help them. It really does, over time, help eliminate behaviors.”
Doggett said most of their patients come via referrals from area doctors. She said they are still growing.
Wells said she knows some parents don’t understand or approve of ABA, but she is really grateful for the center.
“I like it a lot better because their center is really equipped over there,” Wells said. “It’s kind of just like dropping them off at school or daycare, but they are learning positive behaviours. I know it’s not a fit for every family. I personally think they’re great. I’m able to work, I’m able to have my own personal life and still be a mom to them. It’s changed our lives completely for the better.”
The center is having a grand opening at 11 a.m. on Aug. 22 and an open house from noon to 3 p.m. on Aug. 24.