The Virginia Institute of Autism is reaching beyond its Charlottesville home to help military families in need of autism services.
Outpatient Behavioral Services opened its first remote clinic for families stationed at Fort Lee on January 9, 2014. This cutting-edge service delivery model, which allows behavior analysts from Charlottesville to travel to Colonial Heights and see several families in one day, is the answer to a year of requests for services from Fort Lee families.
“In the past we have been unable to reach military families who have reached out to us, desperate to receive help, because they are located over an hour and a half drive from VIA,” said VIA Board Certified Behavior Analyst Yaniz Padilla Dalmau, PhD, who is spearheading the Fort Lee clinic. “However, with the opening of VIA’s Fort Lee Remote Clinic, we are now able to reach these families and deliver ABA services to them in their own community.”
Some of the Fort Lee families have been waiting for autism services for more than a year.
“It’s been horrible, so I was really happy when I heard about [VIA] possibly starting up something here so she can start getting services,” said Jenna Jeanpierre, whose daughter is one of the clinic’s first six students.
Watch CBS6‘s story to meet some of our Fort Lee clinic’s first families:
Padilla Dalmau, VIA’s newest Outpatient Behavioral Services Program Supervisor, joined the team in September, prompting VIA to move forward with the Fort Lee clinic.
“Yaniz Padilla Dalmau has made a goal we’ve had for a year a reality,” said VIA’s Executive Director, Ethan Long, PhD. “We would not have the bandwidth to move into Fort Lee without her commitment and expertise.”
Helping traditionally under-served families get the care they need is Padilla Dalmau’s passion.
“Coming from an island where there is a lack of services for children with developmental disabilities planted in me a passion for serving those who are under-served,” said Padilla Dalmau, who was born in Puerto Rico. “This has been a constant pull for me; to serve children and families who have not traditionally been able to receive high quality behavior analytic services.”
The Fort Lee community is rallying around the cause. Kenner Army Health Clinic reached out to VIA last year to develop a plan for meeting the need for autism services at Fort Lee. Kenner has already referred more than 30 families to VIA’s remote clinic. Kenner says more than 200 Fort Lee families have children on the autism spectrum.
The Mount Pleasant Baptist Church has opened its doors to VIA, and is providing a low-cost location for the clinic.
Each group is committed to supporting the autism community at Fort Lee.
“It is an honor to be providing services to families who have sacrificed so much for the benefit of others,” said Emily Callahan, VIA’s Director of Outpatient Behavioral Services.
Long says the Fort Lee clinic is a sign of things to come for the Outpatient Behavioral Services team.
“This is the first step in expanding our reach to under-served populations throughout Virginia,” said Long.
Click here to see highlights from the clinic.