Cheryl Esch says some parents are wary about taking their children diagnosed with autism out in public because of the fear of inappropriate behavior including tantrums.
She says people on the outside looking in don't know the family and don't understand the problem.
Esch is supervising analyst at Reaching Milestones, an autism therapy clinic that opened July 1 at 1450 54th Street in Columbus.
Reaching Milestones bills itself as one of the leading providers of Applied Behavior Analysis services in the Southeast with clinics in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
It specializes in comprehensive behavioral treatment for children with autism and other related disabilities. Its treatment programs are designed to reduce challenging behaviors while teaching essential learning, language, social and self-help skills.
Esch said Reaching Milestones works to get children with autism to the point where they fit into society as much as possible. School personnel, speech therapists, occupational therapists and other professionals work with the children and their parents to accomplish the goal.
"Speaking with other service providers here, we found a great need for what we do," Esch said.
She has heard that some providers have people on a waiting list.
Autism is a developmental disorder that leads to differences in communication and social skills. The organization Autism Speaks says it is the fastest growing developmental disorder in the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one in 68 children in this country have been identified with autism.
According to Reaching Milestones literature, every behavioral aspect of autism can be addressed using scientifically validated behavioral interventions and that more than 40 years of empirical research has shown Applied Behavioral Analysis interventions to be highly effective.
Children attending the clinic work in groups to help develop social skills as well as getting one-on-one attention. Esch said each child has a comprehensive treatment plan.
"All have their own needs -- some need more language skills, some need toileting skills," Esch said.
Though analysts work in homes, Esch said training in the clinic is more effective because of fewer distractions.
"We can control the environment," Esch said.
Students are rewarded for doing well.
"Positive reinforcement is huge.
All humans look for praise," Esch said.
The reinforcement also helps makes learning fun and motivates the child.
Esch said children are taught appropriate behavior -- for example, asking for a cookie instead of throwing a tantrum.
They also learn how to accept "no."
Parents learn strategies on what to do at home to reinforce what is taught at the clinic, and Reaching Milestones builds in the clinic on what children learn in school.
Esch, who came here from Savannah, Ga., said boys and girls up to the age of 18 may receive help at the clinic.
Some health insurance providers help cover the cost. "We believe every child can be helped," Esch said.
For more information on Reaching Milestones, call 706-221-1208 or visit www.reaching milestones.com.