ACE on the move: Autism center expands services to Rushville


GREENFIELD — The ACE Autism Center for Enrichment in Greenfield recently expanded its services to Rushville, a move that reflects the center’s goal to expand services throughout Indiana.

Lainie Myers, an ACE Operational Director who works with clients in Greenfield and Rushville, said the center’s staff is dedicated to serving families all over the state.

ACE was founded in 2017 by its CEO, Michelle Sears, a board certified behavior analyst with a passion for serving clients with varying degrees of autism.

The center’s therapists use Applied Behavior Analysis — or ABA, a form of behavioral therapy for autistic individuals — to work one-on-one with young people ages 2 to 26.

Myers, who lives in New Palestine, said it’s rewarding work that enhances the quality of life not just for patients but for their families as well.

Therapists work with individuals at the ACE clinics, at home, or in schools and community settings to teach functional living skills and enforce positive behaviors.

The center currently serves 22 clients from its Greenfield location, two in Rushville and three in Morristown schools, with several on the wait list for services in Morristown and Connersville.

ACE opened its new Rushville clinic at 307 N. Main St. on Monday, Aug. 1.

Myers said the small town 30 minutes southeast of Greenfield was a perfect spot for ACE’s recent expansion.

“We saw a huge need there because there was no ABA facility within 30 minutes of Rushville,” she said.

“Parents have to drive at least 30 minutes to get somewhere. We’re finding many people don’t want to make the drive or can’t make the drive or they don’t know about services. We saw the need and jumped at it, and within a month we had the lease signed and were all set up.”

Myers said ACE serves patients on all levels of the autism spectrum, from the lower functioning who need constant care to the higher functioning who benefit from extra guidance in learning to be independent, which includes things like social skills, grooming and money management.

“There was one patient we worked with who needed help with filling out applications and preparing for college,” she said. “We were able to truly set him up for success for his own independence.”

Clients who get assistance at school get help with focusing on a task, staying at their desks “and anything and everything in their daily life they need in order to succeed independently,” Myers said.

Clients who express maladaptive behaviors, like verbal or physical aggressiveness, are taught more socially acceptable behaviors through ABA.

“In each patient we study the behavior to see why the behavior is happening and how we can replace it with something more functional and age appropriate,” said Myers. “Our goals are completely individualized for every single patient.”

The therapist said ACE is on a mission to make the public aware that ABA services are available to anyone with an autism diagnosis and are covered in varying degrees by most insurance plans.

Some patients receive part-time help at home while others are supported at the Greenfield clinic full-time, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

Many clients receive support from an ABA therapist all day at school.

“Our therapists are there to meet them when they step off the bus and stay with them throughout the day,” Myers said, who has been thrilled to help expand ACE’s services outside of Hancock County.

“I’m excited about it,” said Myers, who graduated from Eastern Hancock High School in 2018 and is now in graduate school to become a board certified behavioral analyst. She hopes to help expand ACE’s services in southern Indiana someday.

“Our goal is to spread the word and to be able to serve many more patients. It’s much overdue,” she said.