Yampa Valley Autism Program finds new home
Bud Werner Memorial Library and The Yampa Valley Autism Program are presenting a screening of "Life Animated" at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19 at Library Hall, 1289 Lincoln Ave.
The documentary tells the story of Owen Suskind, a young man on the autism spectrum who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a way to communicate with him using classic Disney animated films.
Steamboat Springs — The Yampa Valley Autism Program is spreading its wings in a new location in Elk River Crossing on Steamboat Springs’ west side.
The new location unites the organization’s therapy offices and two small offices into one space for the first time and creates a meeting space for the growing organization’s 15 staff members.
“It’s been a dream for a long time to have a center,” said Lisa Lorenz, executive director of the Yampa Valley Autism Program. “We’ve been working toward this for about seven years.”
An anonymous donor helped the organization fund the move and spruce up the center, which includes two small therapy rooms, office cubicles and space for workshops and social events.
The center also plans to offer evening respite care for local and visiting families who have a child on the autism spectrum.
Students can receive three types of therapy from the organization — intensive behavior therapy, social cognition therapy and teen social coaching.
The organization also runs a work-readiness program, Community Cultivation, and partners with the Steamboat Springs School District to run STRIDES, a transition program for people age 18 to 21.
People can need different therapies based on where they lie the autism spectrum, a term describing a variety of disorders that affect a person’s communication skills or social abilities and can cause repetitive behaviors or fixations.
Based on the level of impairment, they may be identified at different ages or may not be identified.
Lorenz said it’s believed that about 1 in 68 people fall on the autism spectrum, adding that early identification can help children significantly.
“Early identification and intensive intervention can literally change the course of a child’s life,” Lorenz said.
Parent Jen Casavecchia said she’s been bringing her 11-year-old son to therapy sessions with the Yampa Valley Autism Program since he was in kindergarten.
Casavecchia said she was impressed with the new center.
“Having everything in one location is really great,” she said.
Hayden parent Mike Green said a therapist from the Yampa Valley Autism Program regularly visits his home to work with his 6-year-old son, who is on the autism spectrum.
“My son can’t talk. He’s non-verbal, and they’ve been helping us work through some ways to for him to communicate with us,” Green said. “It’s been critical.”
Green said he’ll likely bring his son to the new center for upcoming socials and other events.
For more information about the Yampa Valley Autism Program, visit yampavalleyautism.org or call 970-846-1519.
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