OCALA, Fla. – Six new autism therapy centers planned for the Orlando area will create 275 new jobs for behavioral analysts, clinical psychologists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists.
Hopebridge Regional Board certified behavioral analyst Taylor Thomas said families in Central Florida have expressed a need for more access to autism therapy services.
“We have over 100 clinics in 12 different states. And literally, that is our mission is just access,” Thomas said.
A 2021 report from the Centers for Disease Control, shows 1 in 44 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism Speaks, a nationally recognized resource for autism advocacy and research, reports most children can be diagnosed after 4 years old, but autism can be detected in kids as early as 2 years old.
“Why would we wait three or four years. And really, we could start working on this immediately, and then immediately see the improvement in quality of life for everybody involved,” Thomas said.
The Hopebridge centers will be located at:
- Mount Dora Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center: 6909 Old Hwy 441, #119, Mount Dora, FL 32757
- Ocala Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center: 3001 W Silver Springs Blvd., Building 200, Ocala, FL 34475
“These kids would be on a waiting list for like six to nine months, or even longer than that, and parents would be driving multiple hours to go get a diagnosis. And so that, offering those diagnostic services, has really kind of changed the game here,” Thomas said.
Evaluations can be scheduled online for the Ocala and Mount Dora centers and care is set to begin in March.