In December of 2002, our Early Start Denver Model Director, Diane Osaki left her position with JFK Partners at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. She was passionate about creating an organization where children with autism could learn and have all their needs supported. At the time, Colorado parents coordinated a patchwork of providers for their children, driving from one location to another in search of occupational/physical therapy, speech therapy, behavioral therapy, respite care, and home tutors. They searched for autism experts around the country who could intervene in struggling school programs that were unprepared for students with autism. The continual coordination was an exhausting and inefficient process.
The doors of what was then called the Aspen Center for Autism, opened in June 2003 with 12 children and 5 therapists. For the first time, many children in Colorado would be able to have their academic, physical, speech, occupational therapy and behavioral learning and training in one place. Diane and her supporters were able to convert her passion to action so that within six months, a building was located, purchased, renovated, cleaned, furnished and landscaped, staff were hired and equipment and materials purchased to give our children the encouragement, support, and challenges they needed to succeed.
Now called Firefly Autism, our House used to be known as the Alta Vista Center for Autism. Since then, we have grown to serve over 435 children, supporting and transforming the lives of thousands of family members and friends, through our center programs, home programs, consultations, trainings, and therapies.
With the creation of Firefly Autism, parents have the option to access learning programs, therapy, respite, and consultation services in one place. Not surprisingly, this holistic environment where learning and treatments are well coordinated improves the children's learning rates. For example, children in our Foundations of Learning program are learning five times as fast compared to their learning rates on arrival with us. Moreover, reduced stress and travel time for both parents and children has a consequent positive impact on family life.
Through our outreach team, we have worked with over 17 school districts and in four countries to provide consultation and support to teachers and educational staff and to specific autism programs. Children in our House programs have come from 11 school districts and three states.
We offer a variety of services to meet the dynamic needs of the autism community, which we know is an incredibly diverse group. What all our services have in common is their focus on transforming the lives of children with autism. By partnering with families, we are able to create life-long relationships through our thoughtful, innovative and empirical learning programs.
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