About Us

 

STAGES = Supporting Transitioning Adults Growing in Essential life Skills

The STAGES program at the Chattanooga Autism Center aims to increase independence among adults (18 years old +) with Type I/high functioning autism through individualized training sessions to promote achievement of the participant’s independent living goals. The STAGES program believes that increasing independence ultimately increases overall quality of life as participants reach their full potential.

STAGES serves applicants, regardless of diagnosis, who experience difficulty in some or all of these areas: 

  • Maintaining daily environment

  • Communication

  • Social interaction

  • Earning a living

  • Personal hygiene

  • Transportation

STAGES serves those adults who desire to: 

  • Acquire daily living skills.

  • Live a more social life and connect with other adults who experience similar difficulties.

  • Gain skills that make maintaining employment easier and more likely.

  • Live a more independent life, either within their current situation or in their own housing.

  • Give back to the autism community through serving others with ASD.

Part of the STAGES team at the 2019 Chattanooga Autism Awareness Walk.

Staff, participants, and family members all came out to practice our social skills and support autism awareness and acceptance.

Who we are

 
Nicky - Program Director, Behavior Therapist

I have been passionate about supporting individuals with autism since the day I started working in this field over 14 years ago.  I was first introduced to autism as an RBT in Wisconsin, continuing my work as a line therapist, team leader, care coordinator, and program director.  I have also worked in the mental health field with teens as an intensive in-home therapist.  I am a board certified music therapist (MT-BC) and I also run the music therapy program at the Chattanooga Autism Center.  I see myself as an interpreter between those who speak the language of autism and those who speak the language of neuro-typicals.  My mission is not to change either of those people, just help them better understand the world that we all share. 

Jake - Behavior Technician

Hi, my name is Jake. I am a lifelong wrestler and graduate of UTC, where I received a Bachelors of Science in Psychology. I am a Georgia native, having gone to college first in New York and later Chattanooga, where I currently reside. I’ve been interested in helping those with autism ever since my brother was diagnosed. Thus, I found myself volunteering at the wonderful Chattanooga Autism Center, later becoming an intern, and finally a behavior technician with the STAGES Program. I love working with this population because every single person you meet is so unique and provides their own perspective on the world we live in. There’s never a boring day when you work with so many interesting people! 

Kiyoko - Behavior Technician

I have a Bachelor’s in Psychology and minor in Biology from the University of TN at Chattanooga. I am continuing my education at UTC by earning a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. I have worked with people with disabilities for 3 years by volunteering with Chattanooga Therapeutic Recreations, Siskin Children's Institute, and The Creative Discovery Museum. My love for the autism community has grown since I moved to Chattanooga in 2017. After furthering my education, my dream is to eventually open my own autism center in a different city to become an advocate and spread awareness for the autism community.

Stages of STAGES

 

Stage One:

  • Every participant begins at Stage 1.

  • Daily (Monday - Friday) phone call/text check-in with STAGES behavior technician

  • 2 hours 1:1 meeting time with STAGES behavior technician per week

  • 1 hour 1:1 meeting time with STAGES behavior therapist per week

  • Includes initial intake meeting, PCP creation, and data collection.

  • Average of 7 hours per week direct and indirect (billing, data collection and analysis, community outreach, etc.) support

 

Stage Two: 

  • Daily (Monday - Friday) phone/text check-ins with STAGES behavior technician

  • 1 hour 1:1 meeting time with STAGES behavior technician per week

  • 1 hour 1:1 meeting time with STAGES behavior therapist per week

  • Average of 6 hours per week direct and indirect (billing, data collection and analysis, community outreach, etc.) support

 

Stage Three:

  • Every other day text/phone check-ins with STAGES behavior technician

  • 1 hour 1:1 meeting time with STAGES behavior technician per week

  • 1 hour 1:1 meeting time with STAGES behavior therapist every other week

  • Average of 5 hours per week direct and indirect (billing, data collection and analysis, community outreach, etc.) support

 

Stage Four:

  • Every other day text/phone check-ins with STAGES behavior technician

  • 1 hour 1:1 meeting time with STAGES behavior technician every other week

  • 1 hour 1:1 meeting time with STAGES behavior therapist every other week

  • Average of 3 hours per week direct and indirect (billing, data collection and analysis, community outreach, etc.) support

 

Stage Five:

  • One text/phone check-in with STAGES behavior technician per week

  • 1 hour 1:1 meeting time with STAGES behavior technician per month

  • 1 hour 1:1 meeting time with STAGES behavior therapist per month

  • Average of 2.5 hours per week direct and indirect (billing, data collection and analysis, community outreach, etc.) support

Consulting: $40/hour + initial $25 fee (waived for previous STAGES participants)

  • Assistance with finite tasks such as test prep/study, college integration supports, driving assistance, etc.

  • Individualized goals and outcomes, as determined by a behavior therapist

  • A minimum of 5 hours billed per service; up to 3 months of services

  • 1 hour 1:1 meeting time with STAGES behavior therapist or behavior technician

  • Data collection and analysis, community outreach, visual support creation, etc.

 

STAGES stories

These are a few of the faces of STAGES participants, staff, and families

Paying for STAGES

 

STAGES is paid for utilizing private pay methods, where the individual/family pays for services out of pocket, or through the ECF Choices waiver. 

At this time, STAGES works with BlueCross/BlueShield of Tennessee as our managed care organization when a participant is utilizing the ECF Choices waiver.  We provide services through Community Integration Support Services and Independent Living Skills training.  If you're already an ECF Choices member, contact your care coordinator about adding these services to your Individual Support Plan and chose STAGES as your provider. Or contact us and we will contact your care coordinator for you!  

 

Go online to learn more about the ECF Waiver program and to apply: https://www.tn.gov/didd/employment-and-community-first-choices.html

Because the STAGES model is individualized and participants progress through the stages at their own pace, there is no "regular" cost to completing the STAGES program.  Each stage has a different cost associated with it that reflects the amount of time and involvement from STAGES staff. 

 

Below is a breakdown of the monthly cost per stage:

  • STAGE 1: $700/month - STAGES staff average 7 hours per week direct and indirect contact with participants and their families.

  • STAGE 2: $600/month - STAGES staff average 6 hours per week direct and indirect contact with participants and their families.

  • STAGE 3: $500/month - STAGES staff average 5 hours per week direct and indirect contact with participants and their families.

  • STAGE 4: $300/month - STAGES staff average 3 hours per week direct and indirect contact with participants and their families.

  • STAGE 5: $250/month - STAGES staff average 2.5 hours per week direct and indirect contact with participants and their families.

  • Consulting: $40/hour + $25 initial consulting fee.  Minimum of 5 hours, maximum of 3 months of service.

Participants average 3-4 months per stage, depending on their motivation and follow through. 

Current STAGES participants can use the button below to pay their monthly fees or to pay for STAGES classes and other STAGES programs they wish to attend.

 

Click “Buy Now” button below, enter the dollar amount you need to pay in the “Item price” box on in the order summary.

 

This can be your monthly fee amount, the price of a class you’re attending, or whatever price was listed that you need to pay.

Contact Us

 

Are you interested in learning more about STAGES?

Do you think that STAGES would be a good fit for yourself or your adult child on the spectrum?

If so, fill out our contact form and someone will be in touch with you about the next steps on your STAGES journey.

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Have a complaint about STAGES or the services you've received? Fill out this Google Form and it will be addressed in 3-5 business days. (Can be submitted anonymously) 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc3ZfOHlZofRwDCCW2-j2R_eR5rbwJF6hfH5fRrHVnHLtl9FA/viewform?usp=sf_link

Mindy - Behavior Technician

Hi, I’m Mindy! I moved to Chattanooga, TN in 2010 to pursue my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a concentration in Education at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. I graduated in the spring of 2014 with my undergraduate degree and began working in the field of child welfare. In the summer of 2015, I got married and decided to continue my education a year later at UTC. I started working on my Master’s of Social Work in the fall of 2016. I have always had a passion for working with children and became very interested in working with the Autism community when my nephew was diagnosed at 3 years of age. This interest led to my graduate school field placement at the Chattanooga Autism Center in the spring of 2017. I absolutely loved working for the CAC as an intern and was largely impacted by that amazing experience. After taking some time off from working and school to have my first child, I graduated with my Master’s of Social Work in the summer of 2019. I have found a new passion for working with autistic adults through the STAGES program. 

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Chattanooga Autism Center

1400 McCallie Avenue, Suite 100

Chattanooga, TN 37404

(423) 531-6961 (option 2)

Fax: (423) 521-8094