Optimal Rhythms, Inc. is a 501(c)3

tax exempt organization

Creating Optimal Rhythms for Life, 

Learning, Communication, and Independence

ACCESS Academy

Our private day school provides students with severe autism:

  • A general education environment
  • Support for sensory and communication needs
  • Innovative neurologic supports

Neurologic Music Therapy Services

  • Individual and Group sessions
  • Treatment for Various Developmental Disabilities 
  • Treatment for Stroke, Parkinson's Disease, Traumatic Brain Injury

Our Specialty -
         Autism Services

     Outreach Programs

       We have a number of outreach projects           we are offering soon:


Our Philosophy:

Autism is a neurobehavioral difference characterized by difficulties with communication, motor control, sensory processing, and social interaction.  Autism causes the brain to develop connections differently which affects the way it processes and organizes information.  These neurological differences affect the way an individual with autism moves, communicates, and interacts, which limits independence, impairs relationship building, and often makes it difficult for them to demonstrate their competence. 

Our Approach:

Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) is a research-based treatment approach that uses music and rhythm to change the way the brain functions.  While each person with autism is unique and treatment is individualized, there are some common techniques.  For example, movement paired with rhythm can help develop new sensory and motor brain connections, which improves body awareness and motor planning.  Other verbal/vocal exercises are often used to develop speech, language, and communication skills,.  By addressing autism at the brain level, NMT can positively affect the skills and abilities a person with autism needs to be independent, to meaningfully relate to others, and to truly demonstrate their competence.  

Our Success:

A number of individuals and families have been learning amazing things about the least dangerous assumption (presuming competence) and the false assumptions they have believed for far too long about autism.  One local high school student has spent his entire school career in special education and "life skills" classes.  The available assessments which in high school still evaluated him to be functioning "below Pre-K level" were unable to accurately evaluate his academic potential due to his motor differences and lack of speech.  However, he was demonstrating in outside therapy that he was a fully competent and highly motivated young man, after developing an alternative and augmentative mode of communication.  In December 2013, he attended his own case conference to discuss his IEP. He communicated (through supported typing) that he, too, deserved a "free and appropriate education" and wanted to be in "regular classes". The following semester he was "tried" in Biology, English, and History and earned "A's" in each.  Unfortunately, despite his success, his public school placement was unable to provide a highly trained communication and regulation partner and the level of supports necessary for him to transition into a fully inclusive schedule of general ed classes and a diploma track.  This student and his family sought out an alternative placement at ACCESS Academy. He has gone on to be recognized with the Excellence in Self Advocacy Award from the Autism Society of Indiana and participated in the Indiana Youth Leadership Forum, as the first nonspeaking student delegate selected. He now writes a blog and is developing curriculum to help churches become more prepared to welcome autistic individuals into their congregations.

Some autistic students with complex communication challenges are experiencing high behaviors and/or a lack of academic progress.  They are often referred to behavioral therapies/ABA, but these do not address their well documented movement differences.  New research has led to the development of new strategies that are being implemented at ACCESS Academy.  These students need - at least initially - a higher level of support than is currently available in most public school environments.  Optimal Rhythms, Inc./ACCESS Academy in the Newburgh / Evansville, Indiana, area was developed to help support improved outcomes for students and families affected by autism, while assisting local public school districts to support the specialized needs of students with "severe" or nonspeaking autism spectrum disorder through access to age-appropriate academic learning that will set them up for future success.

Join us as we encourage others to #rethinkautism; develop literacy-based academic opportunities; and promote an attitude of inclusive, strength-based education and autism services in Indiana, and beyond.