In September 2014 we opened a therapeutic day school program, ACCESS Academy (Assuming Competence Can Ensure Student Success), to support the specialized needs of non-verbal students on the autism spectrum in our community. Our school has received a great deal of positive press and recognition in our short existence. Our CEO/Founder, Casey DePriest, MT-BC, has been providing clinical services since 1995, but her work recently led her and some of her colleagues to recognize the need to “Rethink” autism. Casey was recognized as a 2014 Courier & Press Health Care Hero and Optimal Rhythms/ACCESS Academy received a Leadership Evansville award in 2015 in the area of Education for our innovative work in our community and our team's dedication to individuals and families affected by autism.
At Optimal Rhythms / ACCESS Academy, we work with nonverbal students on the autism spectrum, using a neurologic approach which addresses the movement differences and the brain-body disconnect associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), while always presuming competence. We also assist the youth in finding their voices and developing reliable communication through supported communication and technology. Our program is evidence-based (Antecedent Package) and quite ground-breaking, with only one other US organization (NMTSA) on the front lines with us offering a similar approach and a therapeutic school program like our ACCESS Academy.
Due to the rising prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in our community (1 in 50 live births in Indiana) and across the world, there is a growing need for more education, clinical information and data about autism. The evidence about the neurologic differences in autism is increasing and this is bringing about differences in beliefs and is leading to new strategies for treatment. Our new and innovative approaches to autism treatment and autism education are making a significant difference in the lives of children, adults, and families in our community and across the region.