“Given the opportunity, all children can succeed.”
– Jan Fraser
Join the campaign today!
How your donation will make a difference in an autistic child’s life:
Enables a child to say “I love you” for the first time.
Embraces children’s individuality and focuses on their strengths.
Surrounds kids with a nurturing place to learn and grow.
Empowers the dream of what is possible for every child.
Following along with our construction blog to see the progress of the new Autism Therapy Wing addition here.
I am a proud supporter of the capital campaign:
Autism Therapy Wing Expansion at Fraser-Ford Child Development Center
Architect Drawing of Autism Wing Expansion
Aerial View including New Autism Wing Expansion
Autism Therapy Wing Expansion Fraser-Ford Child Development Center
It is beyond dispute that for children with special needs, investing in focused interventions during the first five years of life, when their lifelong learning and skill building capacity are in their most critical formative period is essential.
This is particularly relevant when the prevalence of various disabilities is reviewed and examined. According to the Center for Disease Control:
- 29% or 20,409 of Maine children under 5 years old have a learning, behavioral, physical, developmental, or other disability.
- over the past 12 years, the prevalence of Developmental Disabilities has increased 17.1%
- the prevalence of Autism has increased over 289.5% during that same period.
- 1 in 68 children have a diagnosis of Autism.
- 1 of every 42 boys and 1 in every 189 girls have Autism.
In addition to the individual and human benefits of focused early intervention services, there also is a real economic advantage.
- Special Education costs during the K-12 years can decrease over $15,000.00 for each child participating in the Early Intervention system.
- Maine’s Special Education spending can be reduced $89 million dollars per year
- The real internal rate of return on public investment in early childhood education is conservatively 7.5%.
In order to stem the rising fiscal and social costs associated with this growing population it is abundantly clear that specialized early intervention instruction in Autism for children in this age group is required.
Yet, there is a critical lack of high quality, results driven and effective environments where Autism-specialized programming is offered, and the public schools struggle with incoming kindergarteners whose basic social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive skills are severely deficient.
Waban has been providing high quality and essential services to children and adults with disabilities for over 45 years. Our comprehensive Early Childhood Program at the Fraser-Ford Child Development Center includes early intervention and special purpose pre-school classrooms and serves over 120 children, ages birth to 5, with Autism, Down Syndrome, developmental delay and other disabilities. Our emphasis is on teaching those skills that can help ensure life-long success for these children.
In order to address the increasing needs of children with Autism, in 2012 Waban partnered with the New England Center for Children and adopted their Autism Curriculum Encyclopedia (ACE) program. This evidence-based program is predicated on over 30 years of clinical research and incorporates the work of hundreds of master’s and doctoral level clinicians.
The curriculum starts with a “core skills assessment” and then goes on to match various lesson plans with the specific needs identified from the assessment. Focus areas include communication, social skills, self-help, discrimination, and health and safety. For children with Autism who are particularly challenged to make eye contact, communicate verbally, be attentive, and maintain their own safety through self-awareness, the skills developed through ACE are essential.
As is evidenced in the chart below, over a one year period and across all of our autism classrooms we saw a 28% increase in Core Skill attainment and a 54% increase in overall Core Skills scores.
As the effectiveness of our Autism instruction has increased, so has the demand for services. All of our existing space has been retrofitted into classrooms, including a large multipurpose space that was used for indoor group and individual therapies. Speech, occupational, and physical therapists typically have to conduct sessions in the halls due to the lack of other accommodations. In addition, we continue to receive inquiries from local public schools regarding our ability to provide Autism-focused, specialized instruction to Kindergarten and First Grade children.
Without additional space, we will be challenged to meet our existing commitments and will not be able to respond to nor address the increased prevalence of Autism or the increased demand for our specialized Autism services. This critical opportunity to address the vital Early Interventions needs of this vulnerable population will be lost.
While Waban has a results-driven, evidence-based, and proven clinical approach to addressing the needs of children with Autism, sadly we currently don’t have the space; our existing 9,000 square foot Center is operating at its physical capacity. In order to address this, we are planning on building a 6,000 square foot addition that would house 4 new classrooms, a large multipurpose space, and multiple consulting rooms for therapists and other clinical specialists. The new classrooms would have capacity for Autism-based specialized programming for preschool age and also have the capability of serving K-2 elementary school children. The large multipurpose room would provide indoor activity and physical therapy opportunities as well as the venue for an after-school hours program that includes physical, social, and communication opportunities for children with Autism.
In order to help fulfill the promise that these children have, Waban has started a $1.5 million dollar capital campaign for the new 6,000 square foot Autism Wing at the Fraser-Ford Child Development Center.
Your generous and tax deductible donation will help ensure that the critical services that these children need will be available to them.
Read the article: Banks Unites for new autism wing.