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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the fastest growing developmental disability in the US and currently affects more than 3.5 million Americans. With an increasing prevalence and no cure, it is essential that individuals touched by this disorder receive effective treatment and their parents or caretakers have an outlet to receive advice and support.
Luckily, Potential, in Newtown, Bucks County was approved for reimbursement by Medicaid, which lets families and clients who could not afford it previously to take advantage of Potential’s specialized services. According to Kristine Quinby, Founder, President and CEO: ”We will no longer have to turn anyone away due to lack of funding, only due to shortage of behavior caregivers.”
Potential is hiring and has developed and tested a group training program that will allow it to double its impact in the next year and beyond. The number of trained staff required to serve these new clients must increase significantly as well as the funds needed for training. Our fundraising focus has been on obtaining the funds to ramp up our capacity while maintaining the quality that is expected of us. Ending the waitlist has become our foremost objective. It fits perfectly with our vision to create a world where every person with autism diagnosis can lead a successful life of value,” added Quinby.
The approach entails a rigorous 4-week training program that enables Potential’s behavior technicians to reach a higher level of certification nationally known as Registered Behavior Technicians (RBT). It also improves the quality of treatment to the clients. While other organizations provide only one or two days of initial training, Potential’s commitment to autism is reflected in the length of training it requires of its employees.
“It’s important to note,” says Quinby, “that while we are looking for quality people, they do not have to have specific experience. We are confident that when they graduate our ‘ABA Boot Camp’ (Applied Behavior Analysis) we will have created highly qualified autism-treatment professionals for ourselves and for the community.”
Quinby estimates that with the additional staff, approximately 38 to 75 additional clients will get off the waitlist of over 150 and start receiving treatment (about 1,000 hours per client per year on average) thereby serving an unmet need in the community. “Having some children wait 6 months to several years is not compatible with our vision,” she concludes.