Kentuckiana Hopebridge locations making a difference in lives of kids with autism

JEFFERSONVILLE, In. (WDRB) -- Several new centers in Kentuckiana are opening doors for children with autism.

Hopebridge started in Indianapolis and now serves kids in Jeffersonville and Louisville through outpatient therapy. For local families, it's making all the difference. 

Five year old Max Neafus is an inquisitive kid, always wondering how things work. "He's come out of his shell so much," said his mom, Holly.

It's a big change from how he was less than a year ago. "He's much more social wouldn't you say? He approaches people more, where before he didn't do that," said Holly.

Max is one of nearly 50 kids served at Hopebridge, a center that serves children with autism disorders through outpatient therapy. The center offers physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). In addition to the Jeffersonville location, a new location just opened in Louisville. 

Max has been receiving therapies since he was about 18 months old. When he graduated out of a state program, his parents began the search for new therapy, but weren't satisfied with the options available. "We left a little bit brokenhearted because we were kind of like 'If they're all like this'..." said Max's dad, Thad, describing another center they visited.

That's when they found Hopebridge. "I'm not sure what they do with him here, but whatever it is, they're doing it right, because he's really progressed," said Holly.

Center Manager Scott Wilson calls Hopebridge an innovative approach. Wilson says traditionally, therapy services for children with autism locally are provided in-home. 

"The doorbell's not going to ring, the dog's not going to bark," said Wilson.

At Hopebridge, a child can get all their therapies without traveling all over town. "It's under one roof to have ABA, OT, PT and speech. I call it one stop shop," said Wilson.

Kids meet one-on-one with a therapist. Some come for half days while others attend all day sessions. What they work on is based on plans of care written by a behavior analyst. Those plans evolve every 90 days to keep help kids keep growing.

"If we've noticed where a child actually masters those skills, we need to update them a little bit sooner," said Wilson.

While a variety of therapies exist for kids diagnosed with autism, Max Neafus' parents say this model works for them, and encourages other families to find the right fit.

"There's different places with different styles. They really need to find a place that fits their kid," said Thad.

Another Louisville location is expected to open in 2018 and provide service to even more kids and families.

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