Indianapolis Edition

Unique Ways to Grow Special Needs Kids into Enabled Adults

The diagnosis of autism no longer needs to be defined by past stigma, as shared in Linda Sechrist’s story “Fresh Looks at Autism.” As mentioned, it’s about a journey of growth where the focus is on the individual’s potential and using support to help enhance it.

Local centers in Indianapolis provide programs and support for assisting the development of autistic children, young adults and adults.

Brain Balance Achievement Center, located both in Indianapolis and Greenwood, is a non-medical and drug-free approach to overcoming the challenges of ADHD, learning disabilities, processing disorders, Asperger’s syndrome and a host of other related childhood learning and developmental issues.

“At Brain Balance, we don’t look at the diagnosis and instead look at the functioning of the brain and how to stimulate specific areas for growth,” says Rhonda Zollner, center director. “This definitely gives parents hope again to know the brain can change and grow, because with neuroplasticity, the brain can build new pathways.”

Brain Balance’s program is hemisphere specific, meaning a series of tests are done to see which of the hemispheres is underdeveloped, and then the deficient side is treated through skills, home exercises and nutrition education with their registered dietician.

“Typically, children with autism will have a right hemisphere underdevelopment which leads to comprehension issues, control in emotions, poor nonverbal skills, poor eye contact and social difficulties,” says Zollner. “We get to the root cause of these issues by balancing the brain through sensory, motor and cognition activities.”

Program attendee ages are from 4 to 17 years, and the average time spent in the program for effective results is six to nine months. There are now more than 100 centers open nationwide and Indianapolis was one of the first 10 centers to open.

Another program focusing on empowering the development of the individual is the Employment Consultant program through Noble of Indiana, helping young adults and adults with disabilities obtain jobs.

“The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 80 percent,” says Tim White, director of Community Employment and Behavioral Therapy.

Noble’s program provides a job coach to assist the individual with preparing for a job such as interviewing skills, building a resume as well finding a job, then providing onsite training support and long-term follow up.

“When we can support someone to get a job, their quality of life improves,” says White. “They then have money, new friends, and their self-esteem increases because they are doing something of value. Their role changes—they go from being the recipient of tax dollars and services to becoming a taxpayer.”

Attendees of the program have been placed in many fields including technology, coding, grocery stores, food service and health care.

Another one of Noble of Indiana’s programs called Project Search offers a one-year internship for senior high school students with disabilities or recent graduates to work at St. Vincent’s hospital, in Carmel.

“Our goal in this program, like all ours, is for all attendees to find employment and we have had at least a 75 percent rate of success every year,” says White.

To obtain a job coach, a person with a disability can enroll with the State Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, which will refer the individual to Noble of Indiana’s program or a similar agency in Indianapolis.

Brain Balance’s Indianapolis location is at 510 Park Meridian Dr., # D, Indianapolis. For more information, call 317-843-9200. The Greenwood location is at 7689 Shelby St., Indianapolis. For more information, call 317-497-8166. Visit BrainBalanceCenters.com.

Noble of Indiana’s administrative office is located at 7701 E. 21st St., Indianapolis, and its other centers are in Indianapolis, Noblesville and Richmond. For more information, call 317-375-2700 or visit MyNobleLife.org.

These local centers also offer programs and support to children and families dealing with autism:

Applied Behavior Center for Autism, located at 7901 E. 88th St., Indianapolis. For more information, call 317-849-5437 or visit AppliedBehaviorCenter.org.

Behavior Analysis Center for Autism (BACA), with 3 locations in the Indianapolis area. For more information, call 317-436-8961 or visit TheBACA.com.

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