Autism Care: Providing Highest Quality & Compassionate Support | CAC

By Jill Forte
March 2, 2023

Vision (September 26, 2005): When a small group of parents first received the news that their children were diagnosed on the autism spectrum, they never dreamed they would open a center for evidence-based services. They were, like most parents, trying to figure out what the diagnosis meant and what to do the next moment. When they came together with a common goal, however, the result was the first applied behavior analysis (ABA) center in Northeast Indiana: Children’s Autism Center (CAC).

The focus for the CAC founders was building a center for compassionate AND effective care. Their children were still developing communication skills, so it was important to the parents that the children were cared for in a kind, respectful, and patient manner; their children could not tell them otherwise so trust in the staff was huge.

Effectiveness was the other critical component for the founders. Days are slow but weeks are fast and every week that passed could either mean gains, stagnation, or losses in terms of learning for their children. The group pushed for gains and efficient use of time.

Since the incorporation of Children’s Autism Center in 2005, the focus of CAC has remained true to the founders- providing the highest quality of effective, compassionate care possible.

Ann Zelt, one of the founding board members, says:

“CAC came into being as there was a need in our community to provide effective medically proven compassionate treatment to children with autism as there were no other local alternatives. Excellence was the standard from the very beginning as the children and their families deserved such. The priority of helping the child and family improve their quality of life was a given. Furthermore, we felt strongly, as we still do, that all children regardless of ability to pay deserve such necessary treatment.”

As the organization was built, it was quickly apparent that every member of the CAC staff and Board of Directors is important to realizing the goals.

Over the years, we have found that retention of our staff ensures efficiency and effectiveness – as well as being a tremendous boost to our culture. We have talented and dedicated staff who have been with the organization ten years or more. Recruitment of new talented staff is a critical element as well. Fresh innovation comes from both new talent and actively seeking learning from the field of ABA and business.

Dani, our trainer for newly hired RBTs, is the first staff member who molds our team. Dani notes:

“As the RBT trainer, I believe it’s important to not only teach our new staff the skills to be an RBT, but also teach and model the importance of how to interact with the children we serve. In our training we have a hands on and interactive training and as their trainer I take every opportunity I can to teach them how to make learning fun and facilitate fun in our training environment!

We have an open-door policy in our training room and the RBTs and clients are encouraged to visit from time to time so we can model how much we care about our clients and invest in their success. I also believe the group concept of our training aids in learning and growth because we are able to discuss and share our experiences and grow together as practitioners and as a support system as we continue on our CAC journey.

At the end of training I always encourage the new staff to remember it’s important to use the skills you learned with the clients we serve but also model acceptance and understanding of autism in the community you are in, because if we do that together we can make the world a better place for any child or adult with autism, not just those in our care.”

The organization’s founding parents had lofty goals and visions of creating a supportive space for autistic individuals in our community. Almost twenty years later, this work is never done. We can always do better and be better. It is so inspiring that Children’s Autism Center’s Board of Directors and Staff are continually pushing forward and evaluating how the organization can further its impact on our community. It is an honor and privilege to serve our community with this team.


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