SOUTHWEST ORANGE With the opening of Florida Autism Center’s sixth location in Lake Buena Vista, families of children with autism now have another local resource and support system.
The FAC’s Lake Buena Vista location, which opened less than a month ago, serves Horizon West, Dr. Phillips, Windermere, Kissimmee and more. Located on Apopka-Vineland Road, it is nestled between a preschool and a karate center.
The organization, founded in 2005, serves autistic children ages 2 to 13 and their families. It provides treatment based on the principles of applied behavior analysis — the process of applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve social behavior.
FAC focuses on early intensive behavioral education, verbal behavior and language training, and social-skills training, according to its website. It also assists children in learning basic self-care and daily living skills, and aims to give children a strong foundation of these skills to be applied in an academic setting.
ABA therapy is very specific and catered to meet each individual child’s unique needs. The FAC’s philosophy is “start here, go anywhere,” and FAC Marketing Director Jenn Elston said that helping set the path for each child’s life journey and getting them to follow it is one of FAC’s goals.
“Getting a child into one-on-one therapy is important because they’re sponges at that age,” Elston said. “We have a great success rate getting kids through our program and getting them into ‘mainstream’ schools. We (also) have a school program for our older children, where they go to mainstream schools and (then) they come to us after school.”
“I’m most excited that our company remains the close-knit family that we are and that we’re close with not only the employees, but also the families.”– Jenn Elston, Florida Autism Center marketing director
Each of the center’s locations has a capacity, but it varies based on the children being served at the location. Each child requires a different level of therapy and care, and the center’s curriculum and therapy offerings are based on their unique needs. However, because the Lake Buena Vista location is so new, there is currently no wait list and anyone who wants to be part of the center is welcome.
Elston said that eventually FAC hopes to have up to 40 facilities in Florida within the next five years. In addition to the new Lake Buena Vista facility, three more Florida locations are slated to open by the end of the year in Lake Nona, Apopka and St. Augustine.
“We have some amazing employees who joined us, and it’s been nice to have a local feel over there,” Elston said. “We’re excited about expanding our presence in the Orlando community as a whole.”
Each location was chosen specifically based on interest or the area’s needs, and FAC continues to identify those needs and expand accordingly. Elston said the Orlando autism community is wonderful and tight-knit.
“I’m most excited that our company remains the close-knit family that we are and that we’re close with not only the employees, but also the families,” she said. “We continue to work one-on-one with families and make sure their needs are met. We want to keep that feel that everyone knows we’re on their side and we’re in this journey together.”
Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected].