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A NOTE FROM THE OWNER

"My goal for the West Texas Autism Center is to help children with autism achieve their full potential and thereby enjoy lives that are as independent and fulfilling as possible. I believe that being the parent of a child with a disability, as well as an educator and therapist, has enabled me to see difficult situations from a unique perspective. I derive a great deal of satisfaction from working with families and helping them understand the best treatment options for their children."

-Melissa Richardson, M.Ed., BCBA

Owner
West Texas Autism Center, LLC


Meet Our Staff

Melissa Richardson, ABA Specialist

About Melissa Richardson M. Ed., BCBA

Owner of West Texas Autism Center, LLC

Melissa Richardson and her staff provide ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy to children and adults. Melissa has teaching experience in general and special education as well as at the college level, where she worked as an academic advisor for students with disabilities and as an adjunct psychology instructor.

Melissa has worked as an educational diagnostician, autism consultant and BCBA for hundreds of schools in Texas and other parts of the US.

Melissa founded the inaugural West Texas Walk Now for Autism Speaks in 2004 and co-chaired the walk for 8 years, raising over a million dollars for autism research. She has attended press conferences and spoken with researchers and legislators in Washington D.C. regarding autism.

She has been a member of the Texas State Autism Network under the direction of the Texas Education Agency and served as a working board member for King David's Kids Autism Support Group in Abilene.

Melissa has presented at state and national autism conferences, medical symposiums, and most recently at Harvard University. She won the Springboard Ideas Challenge at Abilene Christian University for her business plan related to social skills development for adults with autism. She has been featured on news and educational television programs, in newspaper and magazine articles as well as an autism documentary, and has won numerous awards, including the Elite Educator Award for her service to students with special needs. In 2014 she won the 20 Over 50 Award in Abilene for Business Leadership.


Julia Smith, ABA Specialist

About Julia Smith M. Ed., BCBA

Clinical Director

Julia's roots are deep in the local community. She is a graduate of Cooper High School; her mother was a teacher in Abilene and her father was a physical therapy professor at Hardin Simmons University. Julia and her husband James have two precious children, Mason and Madeline.

Julia taught students with special needs from 2004 to 2010 in Abilene and the DFW Metroplex. She has worked at the Abilene State Supported Living Center with adolescents with developmental disabilities and with at-risk students in a Regional Youth Detention Center. Her experience includes equipping parents and educators with the skills necessary to teach individuals with developmental disabilities and providing on-on-one ABA therapy to children and adults.


WTAC Leadership Team

Abilene ABA Autism Team

Kelsey Riewe

BCBA Clinical Supervisor

Abilene ABA Autism Team

Dr. Trube Miller

BCBA-D Behavior Analyst

Abilene ABA Autism Team

Kayla Cox

BCBA Behavior Analyst

Abilene ABA Autism Team

Amanda Gafford

BCaBA Assistant Behavior Analyst

Abilene ABA Autism Team

Shelley Mayfield

Director of Finance & Operations

Abilene ABA Autism Team

West Texas Autism Center Staff

West Texas Autism Center Staff in Abilene

West Texas Autism Center Staff

West Texas Autism Center Staff in San Angelo


WTAC Involvement

WT Autism Table

Services

West Texas Autism Center offers private therapy sessions in our clinical locations in Abilene and San Angelo. We also offer social skills group clinics for all ages at our Abilene location.

Through our relationship with the Abilene Independent School District, we facilitate social skills groups on some elementary and middle school campuses. For those not in our local community, we regularly provide training for educators and parents as well as observation and consultation in school systems throughout the state of Texas.

Community Involvement

We love the families and communities that we service, and we are so proud to participate in events close to home! West Texas Autism Center is a proud member of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Military Affairs Committee.

Melissa Richardson, ABA Specialist
Melissa speaking about ABA at Harvard University

WTAC has proudly sponsored the Dixie Little League Softball Teams, the Busted Putter Golf Classic to benefit Dyess AFB, the Farm and Ranch Expo, and various other community events in Abilene and San Angelo.

We are also proud to be gold sponsors for the Big Country Walk for Autism in Abilene and silver sponsors for the Walk for Autism in San Angelo. You may see us at events for Dyess and Goodfellow Air Force Bases and many other local events, and we hope that you'll drop by to say hello!

National Involvement

We are also proud to contribute to the understanding of autism and ABA at a national level. We have embraced all opportunities to share our experiences and knowledge and learn from others at national conferences and medical symposiums.

We stay connected to large national organizations and regularly participate in continuing education opportunities.

WHAT IS ABA?


Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a scientific approach to understanding socially significant, learned behavior and its relationship with the environment.

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HOW IS ABA DIFFERENT?


ABA treatment is overseen and/or implemented by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). BCBAs have received Master’s or Doctoral level training in behavior analysis.

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IS IT EFFECTIVE?


ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for children with autism. It has been endorsed by many government agencies, including the US Surgeon General.

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ABA has been endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General for Treating Children with Autism

About Applied Behavior Analysis

West Texas Autism Center
West Texas Autism Center
ABOUT ABA

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a scientific approach to understanding socially significant, learned behavior and its relationship with the environment. ABA utilizes research-based techniques to increase useful behaviors and to decrease undesirable ones. ABA is often carried out one-on-one in formal, structured settings; clinical settings; or during natural routines such as playtime or snack time. Academics, language, self-help, play and social skills are among the many areas that can be taught using the principles of ABA.

ABA'S EFFECTIVENESS

ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for children with autism. It has been endorsed by many government agencies, including the US Surgeon General. The National Research Council's book Educating Children with Autism (2001) concluded that ABA was the best research supported and most effective treatment for the main characteristics of autism.

A 2007 clinical report of the American Academy of Pediatrics states that the benefit of ABA based interventions in autism spectrum disorders "has been well documented" and that "children who receive early intensive behavioral treatment have been shown to make substantial, sustained gains in IQ, language, academic performance, and adaptive behavior as well as some measures of social behavior.”

HOW ABA IS DIFFERENT

ABA treatment is overseen and/or implemented by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). BCBAs have received Master’s or Doctoral level training in behavior analysis. They are skilled in the analysis of socially significant behavior problems and are thereby able to help determine why they occur so that effective treatments can be implemented.

BCBA’s develop Behavior Intervention Plans and treatment protocols, based on their findings. They collect data in order to evaluate if a specific treatment has been effective in bringing about behavioral change.

Applied Behavior Analysis is not used exclusively to treat individuals with autism, but because these children typically experience significant language delays, BCBA’s often utilize a behavioral approach to teach communication skills. After administering a behavioral language assessment, they develop a curriculum with specific educational objectives and monitor the child's progress in the acquisition of language skills.

Why See a Board Certified Behavior Analyst?

BCBAs have received Master's or Doctoral level training in behavior analysis. They are skilled in the analysis of socially significant behavior problems and thereby able to help determine why they occur so that effective treatments can be implemented. BCBAs develop Behavior Intervention Plans and treatment protocols, based on their findings. They collect data in order to evaluate if a specific treatment has been effective in bringing about behavioral change. Applied Behavior Analysis is not used exclusively to treat individuals with autism, but because these children typically experience significant language delays, BCBAs often utilize a behavioral approach to teach communication skills. After administering a behavioral language assessment, they develop a curriculum with specific educational objectives and monitor the child's progress in the acquisition of language skills.

Testimonials

Parents and Professionals

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