Disability Issues

Agency expands to serve people with autism

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is on the rise. The demand for services and therapy is also increasing. This is why a local agency needed to expand.

Less than three years ago, By Your Side opened a unique autism language center that offers therapy in an home environment.

Two months ago, they opened a second center and they expect it to grow rapidly with amazing outcomes. The new By Your Side center is located in Schaumburg.

"We started with Burr Ridge and Ridge really grew by leaps and bounds and we were getting a lot of demands from some of the suburbs from up here in this area," said executive director Julie Martin. "We were fortunate to be able to open the second one.

"We specialize in children with autism, but we do work with kids with other disabilities. We have majority speech therapists on staff and behavior therapists on staff. We're able to meet other needs, and one of the things we always tell people we are an autism-specific center."

This center focuses on social functions.

"We want you to learn how you're going to do things in your house, which is why we made all this look like rooms in your house," Martin said. "We want you to learn to sit around the kitchen table, to sit around the TV and family room, play the Wii and play with your siblings."

Ron and Eunice McConville's son, Chip, is 7 years old. He is autistic.

"He was diagnosed when he was 18 months old," Eunice McConville said. "We just knew because he wasn't talking or really connecting with people."

He started at the Burr Ridge location when it opened and has made great progress.

"He was not verbal and he was very frustrated," Eunice said. "He pushed people quite a bit because he couldn't use words, and now he actually does not."

"He's able to express himself in such a way that he doesn't get as frustrated and he's much happier because he can do that," Ron McConville said.

Christine Sipe's son, Matthew, is 9 years old. He is also autistic. Matthew participates in a social group at the center.

"He has problems with social cues and expressive language and coming here, he has a way to rehearse it," Sipe said. "You know if he's doing something wrong, you know the therapist stops him right there and says this is how you should approach this."

By Your Side has services for children and adults. There is a fee. The center accepts most major private insurance and officials are currently evaluating using public insurance.

"We definitely see ourselves growing," Martin said. "We always need a center to kind of settle its roots and as we do that, we want to continue to grow and we will like to continue in the Chicago area."

To learn more, visit byyoursideautismcenter.com

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