Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Academy and Easterseals Southwest Florida, two nonprofits that similarly serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, have formed a strategic alliance to share services in order to fill educational gaps and create the best possible programming regionally.

This synergistic strategy combines the skill set strengths, teamwork, and leadership from both organizations. ABA Academy’s talented team and experience in applied behavioral therapy, one of the foremost research-based therapy approaches for autism, pairs well with Easterseals Southwest Florida’s extensive therapy, early intervention education, family support services and broad range of autism services.

Continuous autism services throughout an individual’s lifespan are critical for families in the community. Now through this agreement and with state support, there is a special place that will maximize an individual’s abilities through programming and educational components.

“This exciting opportunity allows the ABA Academy to provide comprehensive educational and support services for students with autism and other disabilities and their families,” said Donna Leigh-Estes, executive director at ABA Academy. “Without Easterseals of Southwest Florida, we wouldn’t be able to provide all of these auxiliary services. These students deserve the same opportunities that all students receive and the same ability to participate in any activities. That’s what I hope to continue to bring to ABA Academy.”

Each nonprofit will function as separate entities. As part of the alliance, Easterseals Southwest Florida will continue to provide preschool and a kindergarten program at its 350 Braden Ave. location in Sarasota. Kindergarten is a critical year for children, and the program takes a comprehensive approach to development, education, health and well-being.

“Our two great organizations are coming together, and these scalable and sharable programs will overcome geographic barriers to benefit significantly more families,” said Tom Waters, president and CEO of Easterseals Southwest Florida. “There is a longstanding passion by both parties to help these families and students far into the future.”

 ABA Academy and Easterseals Academy

ABA Academy and Easterseals Academy will operate a premier school for first-grade through seventh-grade students at its facility at 7555 Claxstrauss Drive in Sarasota. Each student’s current skills are assessed to create measurable goals. These goals are individualized and address the components of instruction, including functional spontaneous communication, social skills, play, and motor skills, cognitive development, functional academic skills and proactive interventions to address challenging behavior. The classrooms have different student-to-teacher ratios, depending on the needs of the students.

DeSoto Club of Boys and Girls Club and the VIP Academy

At the DeSoto Boys and Girls Club in Manatee County, Easterseals Southwest Florida and ABA Academy will provide an alternative educational program for students’ age 14 – 22 years old that are eligible for Exceptional Student Education (ESE) services. The focus of the program is to assist students with developing confidence, maximizing their attainable levels of independence and to introduce and refine pre-vocational and employment skills to prepare them for their transition into life after school. The program’s purpose is to teach vocational skills, leading to job placement and increased healthy individual