Mission Autism Provides A New Kind of Therapy | News

Paul DeAngelo Jr. is bringing his mission to Sugarloaf Twp. His mission is Mission Autism…

Mission Autism Provides A New Kind of Therapy | News

Paul DeAngelo Jr. is bringing his mission to Sugarloaf Twp.

His mission is Mission Autism Clinics, a new kind of autism therapy for children.

“Applied Behavior Analysis is an evidenced-based therapy that has been clinically proven, and is science-based, that shows progress in children,” said DeAngelo, CEO of Mission Autism Clinics. “It is the only evidenced-based therapy.”

DeAngelo found the therapy in Arkansas when his sons, Luca, now 4, and Roman, 2, needed speech therapy. He had been in the behavioral and mental health business six years, mostly with adults.

“We’ve found that we like to work with children,” he said. “I have two children of my own. Both have gone through early intervention, through speech therapy. We had a group doing this in Arkansas, and really liked their clinical philosophy and their program. We said ‘Do you have plans to come to Pennsylvania?’ And they said, ‘No, we don’t.’ So we said. ‘We’d love to bring what you guys are doing to our local communities.”

Luca was not talking at 18 months old, so Paul said he qualified for early intervention and got speech therapy. He has since graduated from the program. Roman is 2 years old and is still in the program.

“Seeing the progress the kids made at clinics in Arkansas that we went to visit was just amazing,” DeAngelo said. “Talking to the parents, talking to the staff how much progress they made was amazing. One in 59 children have a prevalence to autism, and the majority are male.”

ABA therapy services were not available locally, so Mission has opened clinics in Bloomsburg and Pittston, and is opening a new clinic soon in Sugarloaf Twp.

“Our clinics have one-on-one therapy with a registered behavior technician that is supervised by a master’s level, board-certified behavior analyst,” he said. “We typically have two programs, but sometimes we have three programs, depending on the size of the facility.”

Mission has a day program, for kids 2-6 years old, which focuses on communication skills, social skills and pre-K readiness skills. The day program is 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., so it is scheduled around schools.

There is an after-school program for kids 6-12. The emphasis is on building relationships, social skills and hygiene.

At some facilities, like the Bloomsburg facility, there is a teen program for 13-21 years old that focuses on vocational skills, independent skills like doing laundry, as well as maintaining those relationships.

The after-school and teen programs are 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.

The new Sugarloaf Twp. clinic, a 7,000 square-foot facility in a former physical therapy space at 1 Brookhill Square South behind Brookhill Suites, is opening in early November and will eventually employ 35 — five teams of seven people each.

“One of the things we looked at when we were going through this process, a lot of parents are traveling two, three hours to get services because a lot of them are in the major cities,” DeAngelo said.

Anyone interested in Mission’s services can can reach out to them via their website, missionautismclinics.com, or call them at 888-726-4774 or 570-802-3099.

“We are accepting enrollment,” he said. “That begins the process, and then we can reach out to them.”

Children have to have an autism diagnosis to be eligible for Mission’s services, DeAngelo said.

“To get an autism diagnosis have to go to a doctor or psychologist,” he said. “If they have that diagnosis, we then do an initial consult with the parent. We get information about what their concerns are, what they would really like to focus on with the child, whether it’s aggressive behaviors or communication, or social skills. Then we do an intake assessment, where we sit down with the parent and for two to three hours, go through a whole list of questions, and then spend two or three hours with the kido and do an assessment.”

Each child gets an individual treatment plan custom built for them, he said.

“No plan is the same, since every kid is on a different end of the spectrum,” he said.

The treatment does not go on forever, he said.

“Depending on the child, we put together six-month treatment plans, which will have certain goals in there,” he said.

Miranda Bonetsky is Mission’s head of talent, who is in charge of recruiting and hiring all of Mission’s employees, uses all methods to find the people Mission needs — job fairs, online job boards, college recruiting, LinkedIn and an employee referral program.

“We have a program called Mac Scholars,” Bonetsky said. “We hire technicians with college degrees who are interested in becoming a board certified behavior analyst. We help them find a school with an ABA program, and then we provide them with a site to get them their supervision hours.”

Bilingual people are especially valuable to Mission, DeAngelo said.

“We are getting a lot of phone calls from the Latino community,” he said. “Their first language is Spanish, so hiring folks with a bilingual background is critical for us.”