NHS Autism Center Holds Open House Tuesday

BATON ROUGE, LA - "We wake up, six o'clock in the morning, get ready for therapies, we drive over an hour to get to therapy everyday in the morning, through rush hour traffic."

Mandy Hymel hopes this new Autism Center in Baton Rouge will help her and her six year old son.

"It would be nice to have friends at a school cause right now his therapies are all over. I just want to cut that out, want something all under one roof. This is just a blessing," Hymel said.

The Center, created by NHS, the nation's largest provider of education and human services, will offer multiple services for kids of all ages. They start enrolling students next week.

"The clinic will open services for applied, developmental, and Occupational Therapy. The pre school will be opening very soon and educational services will depend on placement from local area school boards," said Shelley Hendrix.

The facility will also serve as a shelter.

"After the flood we know that there were a lot of families not able to access the shelters because of the unique abilities of their children," said Karen Markle, Vice President of Education and Autism Services for NHS. Markle said the school will also serve as a shelter for families with Autism. "God forbid if there were any other future events where help and support is needed," she said.

It has been nearly a year since Baton Rouge mom Shelley Hendrix started her journey towards getting a school like this in Southern Louisiana. At Tuesday's open house, organizers surprised Hendrix by naming the center after her.

"My hope is that the center will be able to provide an additional resource to families that are living with Autism and have that continuum of care that's available to children or they've just been diagnosed or they're transitioning into adulthood, to make sure that their needs are being met not only for the person with the Autism for the whole family as well," said Hendrix.

For more information about the services provided by NHS, visit http://www.nhsonline.org/services-education-autism.html#la

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