This year, Cornerstone is celebrating 10 Years of Maximizing, Embracing and Fulfilling since opening in Greenwood. Both the Center Grove and Greenwood Magazines shared an article about this milestone, with interviews from Co-Founders Debbie Ide and Ken Weadick. You can read the full article, titled A Decade of Life-Changing Therapy, at this link.
You can also read the full article at the bottom of this blog.
A Decade of Life-Changing Therapy:
Cornerstone Autism Center Celebrates 10 Years of Excellence
by Christy Heitger-Ewing
Greenwood & Center Grove Magazines
When Debbie Ide first moved to Indiana from California, she and her husband were in search of good resources for their son, who has autism.
“We had come from a land of home programs and that worked great for a number of years, but it’s very isolating,” says Ide. “We wanted more social opportunities. We wanted a community.”
They quickly found, however, that there were few viable options in the area. Then they met Ken Weadick, a clinical developmental behavior therapy specialist. They hatched a plan to offer a different approach, and in 2010 opened Cornerstone Autism Center in Greenwood.
“We designed it as center-based program that relied on clinical expertise,” says Ide.
This model enables parents to be parents while experienced clinicians care for the children’s needs. As they designed the center, they intentionally made sure to keep it “homey” rather than clinical, which has proven to be a big hit.
“When families come to tour the center, the kids don’t want to leave!” she says.
When the center first opened in 2010, it took a bit of time to educate the public that they existed. Once word spread, however, interest exploded and they continued to grow organically. So much so, in fact, that through the years they have expanded their Greenwood location and opened additional locations—one a half a mile away, one in West Lafayette and another in Edinburgh. The Greenwood Polk location primarily focuses on young kids (mostly under 10 years of age), while the Madison Avenue location serves older and transitional clients. Cornerstone has served clients as young as 18 months and as old as 24 years. Across all locations, they serve 175 children a day.
Children come to Cornerstone Autism Center Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Board Certified Behavior Analysts supervise and develop individualized treatment programs that are tailored to meet the needs of each student, all of whom meet one-on-one with behavior therapists who use Applied Behavior Analysis and Verbal Behavior therapy to break down life into manageable pieces.
“We only serve the kids who have the more significant needs,” says Weadick, noting that they get authorized for a six-month course of treatment before being reevaluated to determine if they need to lengthen the course of treatment. “The ultimate goal is to get children back in a traditional school environment.”
“We are a therapy clinic, not a school,” says Ide. “We want to get them back into their environment where they can be included and blend right in.”
When the children reach certain milestones, the staff celebrate the accomplishment with a “graduation,” complete with cap, gown and diploma. The actual ceremony, however, varies from person to person.
“Some kids do written speeches, thanking their families and therapists,” says Weadick. “Others are not at that ability. We celebrate at whatever level they can.”
This year, Cornerstone Autism Center celebrates their ten-year anniversary.
“It’s easy to get caught in the weeds with this number of staff and this number of clients,” says Ide. “But when you take a minute to reflect on all the centers have accomplished over ten years—that we are closing in on having helped 500 kids! When you look at all those faces, that’s pretty profound to know we have affected all those lives.”
Clearly, as these kids transition to school, their trajectory is better because of their time spent at Cornerstone Autism Center.
“I’ve been working in this field for 25 years, and I’ve never found another service delivery model that can make as big of an individual impact,” says Weadick. “The differences it is making for every kid that has come through here are huge. We’re talking life-changing differences—for them, for their families and for everyone they come into contact with. The breadth and depth of that change is astounding.”
Ide agrees. Time and again, she has seen a frustrated child come in who has no language skills and has a lot of behavior issues as a result.
“Parents are frustrated too because they don’t know what to do,” she says. “But to watch that child get those words, to be able to tell their parents for the first time that they love them—that’s huge. That’s special.”
Cornerstone Autism Center’s main center is located at 380 Polk Street. For more information, call 317-888-1557 or visit http://cornerstoneautismcenter.com/
July 27, 2020, Morgan McClellan