Davenport Family to Benefit from New Autism Center

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A new type of service is coming to the Quad Cities to help local families impacted by autism.

"It's about providing an answer to this explosion that's happening in the autism community and in that answer giving families hope," says Steve Muller, Chief Executive Officer of The Homestead.

For The Homestead, that "answer" is intense intervention using an approach called Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA. Muller is bringing the method to Davenport in July 2014, when The Homestead takes the place the of the QC Child Development Center, which closes at the end of March 2014.

"Davenport is an important part of this menu of services The Homestead is creating," he told News 8's Angie Sharp on Thursday, March 20th, 2014 when he was in town.

The Homestead is based in central Iowa and in recent years, the non-profit organization has expanded to Clive, Iowa as well as the Cedar Rapids area and now to the Quad Cities.

"After spending a few months talking to families and school officials and other agencies, what we found was there is a need here and we're excited to be part of the Quad City community."

Jennifer Murphy from Davenport is also excited. She found out two weeks ago that her four-year-old son, Joshua, has autism and called The Homestead the next day to secure her spot.

"He's a bright boy. He's very intelligent. He's just very delayed in the speech and he does have a lot of sensory issues."

"I really think it's [The Homestead] going to help tremendously," she adds. "I've followed some of the children in their growth process doing ABA and I can tell that's really what he [Joshua] needs because I can see my son in a lot of those children."

"The national research that is out there today says that using ABA helps kids learn how to learn," says Muller. "It's taking advantage of the spark that's still in their eye and that's what we want to do. We want to tap in while that child is still somewhat interested in what's happening in the world around them."

Muller says The Homestead in Davenport will start with children up to 9 years old or 10 years old. Those children will go to the center for about 2 and a half hours a day, 5 days a week.

"What we see is a chance to work very intensely with a small group of children and these kids are typically the folks that are struggling the most in a school setting. They're struggling the most in their communities," says Muller.

"Unfortunately in Iowa, we have too many kids that are having to leave their home, leave their community, and live in other residential programs because of the severity of their disability and so what we're trying to do is work with these kids early on and put them on a different developmental trajectory."

"That's what we've seen happening in our other programs - that kids who may have been bound for a segregated schools setting or placement outside of their traditional community are being able to be retained in that home and families are staying together."

"I truly want him to get the most out of life that he can," adds Jennifer. "He may never be at 100%, but I just want to help my baby."

For more information on The Homestead, click here or call 1-888-2AUTISM.