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Expanding Services, Horizons, for Kids with Autism

December 2, 2018

Lowell Sun

WILMINGTON -- The May Center for ABA Services has expanded in Wilmington, and will now be able to serve more young children diagnosed with autism.

The Applied Behavior Analysis Services program used to be housed within the May Center School for Autism and Developmental Disabilities, located at 50-E Concord St. Now, the ABA services will be offered just a three-minute walk away, across the street at 60-I Concord St.

“We opened up officially in our other space in January and it was fairly quickly that we determined that we would outgrow that space and that there was a big need in the community to serve children with autism,” said Sarah Weddle, director of outreach and behavioral support.

The program accommodates children up to age 7. Currently, children are assessed on their needs and functioning levels so an individual plan can be crafted to help meet their goals.

“Before we were in one classroom, which could accommodate only four children and now our space can accommodate up to 10 during one time,” Weddle said. “Now, we can schedule 20 to 30 children in and out during the day depending upon schedules.”

Jason Neely, the outreach and family support coordinator, said this expansion is so important because of the growing need for these services in Wilmington and beyond. Families have been served from communities including Billerica, Bedford, Tewksbury, Lowell, Reading, North Reading and more.

“There’s a real need for intensive behavioral services and we want to really focus on skill acquisition and enabling the children to build up their communication skills with the goal of getting them back into a full-time school setting,” Neely said.

In the new year, Neely said he looks forward to also offering services to help parents adjust to their child’s diagnosis and provide emotional support for how that may impact familial relationships.

Right now both half- and full-day programming is offered at the May Center ABA Services. The full-day program runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Neely stressed that the number of hours a child stays at the program is based on their needs.

“We offer kind of a more contemporary more modernized approach to focus on skill acquisition and building their communication repertoire,” Neely said. “We believe if we build up these skills and their ability to communicate, the problem behavior will be less of an issue.”

Parents also receive coaching and consultations to help them work with their children to reduce problematic behavior at home and continue the progress made with skills learned at the May Center at home.

“We are delighted to be expanding our early intensive behavioral program for children with ASD (autism spectrum disorder),” said Ivy Chong, senior vice president of Home, School, and Center-based Services for May Institute, in a press release. “Center-based services create meaningful learning opportunities for children to master critical skills in their homes, the community, or other environments.”

The May Center for ABA Services is hosting an open house on Sunday where families can learn more about the program, have a tour of the facility and enjoy some holiday fun. Refreshments will be served. Registration for the event is encouraged.

For more information or to find out how to register your child, contact 781-437-1215. To register for the open house visit www.mayinsitute.org/events .

Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt.

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