Children who need to build communication and other life skills should not be waiting months or years for behavior therapy. Our capacity to meet this need is limited by our clinic’s physical space. The Chattanooga Autism Center (CAC) will build a new, larger space for the Bridges Behavior Therapy Clinic for autistic children to practice emerging skills in an inclusive preschool environment.
Therapy environment will be safe, sensory-friendly, and inclusive.
Parents and teachers will be trained to meet the needs of these children.
Small inclusive preschool added within five years.
Imagine 4 year old Cynthia, who can’t communicate that the sounds in the room are too loud or that she doesn’t want her food right now or that she can’t get a toy down from the shelf. Imagine her struggling to understand why another child isn’t playing the same way she is or that she’s having a hard time regulating her emotions and behaviors because the sensory overload is unbearable. And this isn’t Cynthia’s fault. Our world causes sensory overload, frustration, trauma, and many other obstacles that impede positive development for autistic children. This results in less access to childcare, fewer preschool options, increased suspension rates, exclusion from classroom curriculum, and lack of access to formative life opportunities that most families take for granted.
The Chattanooga Autism Center’s Bridges Behavior Therapy Clinic provides the right therapeutic environment to support skill building in children like Cynthia. It is sensory-friendly, has high staff-to-children ratios, and provides individually tailored therapy and support. By working with their trusted therapists, children like Cynthia strengthen their self-regulation, communication, and self-advocacy skills while building confidence along the way. Ultimately, the goal is to prepare these children to succeed as they transition into traditional school settings and in life.
Case for Support
Within 5 years the space will include a small inclusive preschool. Our new space will meet special building code requirements, and include two outfitted preschool rooms where children can immerse themselves in group learning environments with the added supports to set them up for future success in traditional classroom settings.
The CAC supports the community at large via outreach and training opportunities. In our new space we will have a training room where parents, educators, and other professionals can observe ABA therapy in real-time and then integrate what they have learned in their home, educational settings, or therapeutic environments. We’ll also increase our already robust internship program and develop highly qualified and informed therapists who will further serve this population.
The CAC’s Bridges Behavior Therapy Clinic has provided 72 autistic children with more than 21,000 hours of therapy since it began in 2016. It utilizes Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy which is the number one evidence-based therapy for children needing intensive support. The therapy program was built within our existing clinic at the CAC and has proven to be stable, sustainable, and effective, with the demand for services growing each year.
Need for growth
Demand for this therapy has grown exponentially, and we must establish a new space to serve more clients in even more effective settings. In our new space, we will double our capacity, from 225 therapy hours per week to 450 hours per week, and greatly reduce the time for dozens of families on our waitlist at any given time. With a state of the art sensory room, calm space, rooms for group and social activities, specialized bathrooms for potty training, an outdoor area, and sensory-friendly rooms throughout, we will provide our clients with adaptive, fun spaces to practice their emerging skills safely.
Why the Chattanooga Autism Center?
The CAC impacts over 6000 people annually through various programs and initiatives, including the Bridges Behavior Therapy Clinic. We are highly regarded among other nonprofit and support organizations across our region. We have strong collaborative relationships with local education departments, law enforcement, disability service providers, UTC, legal firms, as well as city, county, and state-run programs. We are a resource for all who seek autism-related information, resources, and support.
Vision for Bridges
Cost to Expand Bridges = $306,000
Support the expansion of the Bridges Behavior Therapy Clinic at the Chattanooga Autism Center!
We have the staff, the talent, and the opportunity to rent, renovate, and outfit a new space. We have the support of our Board of Directors, and the budget to show how this move will increase sustainability and benefit not just our ABA clinic, but the CAC as a whole. Ultimately, we will be able to serve more people across all our programs and across the lifespan. Now we just need the financial support to make this vision a reality.