This clinic is a critical step forward for ATG’s mission: To provide high-quality, clinically proven services to clients and families impacted by autism.”
Those are CEO Mark Jackson’s remarks on the opening of The Autism Therapy Group’s new treatment center here in Lombard, IL.
The New Autism Treatment Group Center
The center, at 991 Oak Creek Drive, occupies 16,000 square feet and has dedicated areas for offices, conferences, one-on-one teaching, and activities. Over the course of its development and growth, the center will create many new jobs for area residents in high-paying, specialized fields.
ATG was previously focused entirely on home therapy. The group has patients all across western Chicagoland. The Lombard location is an easily accessible home base — an opportunity to expand access while staying close to clients’ homes.
This new autism treatment clinic has been in planning for over a year, a development phase coinciding roughly with the leadership handoff to Jackson in December 2018. The plans do not stop with the opening.
The vision for the new facilities includes camps during school breaks, a shuttle service, an outdoor playground, and general site expansion. For now, ATG is focused on safety, distancing, and meeting or exceeding all CDC guidelines.
The Difference at ATG
The ABA industry has up to 75% turnover for Registered Behavior Technicians, as reported on Forbes. On the low end, the estimate is about 30% turnover annually. This leads to retraining costs, interruptions in care, and lack of consistency in many clinics.
ATG stands out with high employee satisfaction. Jackson has cited respecting employee time as one of the primary contributors to this — caregivers get the personal time they need to stay committed to the organization’s vision. This, in turn, allows everyone to focus on quality of care.
The goal is not just to keep people on board, but to build community by generating internal referrals of new employees. If the opening of the expansive new center is any indication, the people-first strategy seems to be working for everyone’s benefit.
The Need for More Treatment Centers
Lombard already has one ABA treatment center: a branch of a large, regional chain. There are several others dotting the western suburbs. However, the need for more is obvious — the nationwide status quo consists of waiting lists, delayed assessment times, and at-capacity facilities.
The cause of these overfull centers: An increase in the prevalence of ASD. As more data begin to emerge, the scope of the issue is becoming clearer.
The change is dramatic. In 2000, CDC data identified about 1 in 150 children as having an ASD. In 2016, that estimate had already risen to 1 in 54.
Rather than a cause for alarm, this indicates advances in data collection and autism diagnosis. In fact, it is good news for most parents of children with autism: More accurate, earlier identification of ASDs often leads to improved treatment outcomes.
What are the specific influences on the increase? More accurate identification of ASD, more widespread awareness of the specific symptoms of the condition, and technical changes to the diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — the handbook for mental health professionals — have all been factors in the rising number of known cases, according to Scientific American. The CDC plans to expand sampling in upcoming studies, so we can expect the number to change again soon.
A Clear Path Forward
It seems that all of these statistics are secondary to the overarching vision of The Autism Therapy Group. When asked why he worked in ABA, Jackson replied, “I get to wake up each morning focused on a single goal: making a difference in children’s lives.”
For now, there is no waitlist at the new center. ATG invites parents or other caretakers to call (847) 465-9556 at any time.
Answering services are available in Spanish and English.
Mark L. Jackson
Chief Executive Officer
mark.jackson ( @ ) theautismtherapygroup dot com