CHERRY HILL >> Almost everyone loves the Boardwalk – and kids with autism are no different. That’s why NeurAbilities Healthcare made its newest autism treatment center look like the iconic seaside attraction: So young patients can have fun while overcoming challenges and developing new skills.
During a recent open house (with COVID precautions), local officials and community members toured the Cherry Hill facility, which features nine treatment rooms for one-on-one behavioral therapy – and a spacious indoor playground with swings, a bouncy house, and kid-sized ice-cream truck. Photo murals of boardwalk scenes – from amusement-pier rides to ocean views – encircle the cheerful space.
Despite the center’s lighthearted look, its highly trained staff provides essential, life-changing services.
“Children with autism require specialized therapy in order to learn and reach their full potential,” said Kathleen Stengel, BCBA, chief executive officer of NeurAbilities Healthcare. For example, they often have difficulty communicating, interacting appropriately with others, and even paying attention to their caregivers or teachers.
“We teach children functional skills, and then help them apply their skills at home,” Stengel explained. “We also teach parents and other caregivers how to work with their child.”
NeurAbilities provides applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy – the standard of care among experts in the field – which helps youth with autism learn.
Moreover, the Voorhees-based organization is the only provider in the South Jersey/Philadelphia region that offers diagnostic testing – including diagnostic medical evaluations and standardized testing for autism (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, ADOSTM-2, considered the gold standard) – as well as ABA treatment, from one coordinated source.
“Many families in Cherry Hill know first-hand what it’s like trying to navigate the complex world of behavioral care and services,” said Cherry Hill Mayor Susan Shin Angulo, who attended the open house at 1800 Chapel Avenue.
“I’m so excited NeurAbilities’ clinic will be able to provide them with a valuable new resource, right at home in their own community. I couldn’t be more proud to welcome them to the township, and to add to the ever-growing number of first-class healthcare facilities that choose to call Cherry Hill home.”
Kaori Nepo, PhD, BCBA-D, director of behavior services for NeurAbilities, noted another benefit of the new center: it’s bringing good jobs to the area.
“Over the next year, we’re looking to hire about 50 board-certified behavior analysts and registered behavior technicians, among other positions,” said Nepo.
“We provide extensive training and support, and clearly a great work environment!” she added.
NeurAbilities also has autism treatment centers in Freehold, N.J., and in Bala Cynwyd, King of Prussia, and Allentown (opening in April), Pa. Its diagnostic offices are in Voorhees and Wall Township, N.J., and King of Prussia, Pa. The organization also provides home-based ABA services in the following counties: Burlington, Camden, Monmouth, and parts of Gloucester, Ocean, and Atlantic counties in New Jersey, as well as in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania.