Autism Education Center Moves Due to Overwhelming Demand

By: Elizabeth Prann Email
By: Elizabeth Prann Email

In July we introduced you to Helen Ezell, she opened the first Autism Education Center in Bay County.

It's an all encompassing facility offering therapy, medical advice and early intervention and treatment.

But there's been such a demand in our community, the center has already grown into it's second home after a short 5 months.

"We've outgrown the building. It was just too small, it was only 2-thousand square feet with in the first 6 weeks we had more than 40 families come to us," said founder, Helen Ezell.

The new facility, on Highway 390 was originally inspired by her 4 autistic sons. Each one inspires her to grow, work hard and succeed. And in this case, the goal was square footage - which is almost double at her new facility. And just as the building has expanded so has the support.

"Myself and the board, we really felt that this is something we'd like to get into and we're helping finance it and start it," said Springfield Church Pastor Donnie Jackson.

The community is rallying because there is nothing like it in Bay County.

As Ezell attests, "You could have 7 or 8 appointments a week and you could be driving for hours a day to get to all the appointments your children need for therapy. So really the logical thing to do is put it all under one roof.."

What's even more unique than the therapy, the medical attention and the future soft gym at the facility, is the relationships. William Keeley is a teacher at the center, he is also autistic. But he says, helping kids learn the ins and out of electronics will set them up to integrate successfully in to society.

"We learn things a little differently than most people. We learn visually in most cases. The biggest thing about getting an autistic person to learn something, is to get them interested."

And interested they are. Kelley says the biggest challenge is staying on your toes, "they pick up on things quick. If I do something wrong they're going to call me out on it right away, so i need to be on my p's and q's."

The doors open to center on Tuesday, December 1. The grand opening celebration will take place December 17th. For more information the autism education center, which, is still taking applications from families call 850 628 1429


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