The ABA Academy (Applied Behavior Analysis) and Easterseals Southwest Florida, two nonprofits that serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families, have formed a strategic alliance to share services in order to fill educational gaps and create the best possible programming.
This strategy combines the skill-set strengths, teamwork and leadership from both organizations. ABA Academy’s talented team and experience in applied behavioral therapy, one of the foremost research-based therapy approaches, pairs well with Easterseals Southwest Florida’s extensive therapy, early intervention education, family support services and broad range of autism services.
Continuous autism services – provided throughout an individual’s lifespan – is critical for families in the community. Now, through this agreement and with state support, ABA Academy becomes a special place that will maximize an individual’s abilities through programming and educational components.
“This exciting opportunity allows the ABA Academy to provide comprehensive educational and support services for students with autism and other disabilities and their families,” said Donna Leigh-Estes, executive director of ABA Academy. “Without Easterseals of Southwest Florida, we wouldn’t be able to provide all of these auxiliary services. These students deserve the same opportunities that all students receive and the same ability to participate in any activities. That’s what I hope to continue to bring to ABA Academy.”
Each nonprofit will function as separate entities. As part of the alliance, Easterseals Southwest Florida will continue to provide a Kindergarten program at its 350 Braden Ave. location in Sarasota. Kindergarten is a critical year for children, and the program takes a comprehensive approach to development, education, health and well-being.
ABA Academy, in partnership with Easterseals Southwest Florida, will continue to operate its premier school for first-grade through seventh-grade students at its campus at 7555 Claxstrauss Drive in Sarasota. Each student’s current skills are assessed to create measurable goals. These goals are individualized and address the components of instruction, including functional spontaneous communication, social skills, play and motor skills, cognitive development, functional academic skills and proactive interventions to address challenging behavior. The classrooms have different student-to-teacher ratios, depending on the needs of the students.
Additionally, at the DeSoto Boys and Girls Club in Manatee County, Easterseals Southwest Florida and ABA Academy will provide an alternative educational program for students ages 14-22 who are eligible for Exceptional Student Education services. The program will help students develop confidence, maximize their attainable levels of independence and introduce and refine their pre-vocational and employment skills. The goal is to prepare them for life after school, with an emphasis on learning vocational skills, leading to job placement and increased healthy individual development, such as self-esteem, feelings of self-worth and independence.
“Our two great organizations are coming together, and these scalable and shareable programs will overcome geographic barriers to benefit more people even better,” said Tom Waters, president and CEO of Easterseals Southwest Florida. “There is a longstanding passion by both parties to help these families and students far into the future.”