Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can change a family’s life from the inside out, turning daily tasks into overwhelming sensory experiences for the individuals it affects.
Since opening its doors in 2007, Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism, an Ozark Center program of Freeman Health System, has worked to improve the quality of life for children and families touched by ASD, serving more than 1,000 families to date.
“Individuals with ASD have deficits in the areas of communication, socialization and restrictive, repetitive patterns of behavior,” said Sarah Horton, coordinator of outreach services at Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism. “Children and adults with ASD often have unique interests and a different way of seeing the world, as well.”
Staff at the center specialize in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), an evidence-based treatment approach that uses positive reinforcement to help individuals acquire useful skills, including communication, socialization, self-care and learning skills.
“People who have gone through our program and are now in typical classrooms do amazingly well,” said Paula Baker, Freeman Health System President and CEO. “That could never have happened without early intervention.”
Early diagnosis and continued treatment can greatly improve an individual’s ability to learn, socialize and communicate. To schedule an appointment with Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism’s diagnostic team, call 417.347.7850.
About the Author
Kristy Parker, M.Ed., M.A., BCBA, LBA, is the clinical director of Bill & Virginia Leffen Center for Autism and has been with Ozark Center since 2011. As clinical director, Parker oversees Applied Behavior Analysis services provided to children, youth and adults both at the center and throughout the community. Parker graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education and a M.Ed. in Special Education-Autism Emphasis from the University of Nevada-Reno as well as an M.A. in psychology-Applied Behavior Analysis. Parker has been a licensed behavior analyst in the state of Missouri since 2011 and in the state of Arkansas since 2014.