Officials celebrate opening of new West Lafayette autism center
Published: April 20, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – More than 200 people attended the ribbon-cutting celebration Wednesday (April 20) for the new Cornerstone Autism Center in the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette. The facility's opening is taking place during National Autism Awareness Month.
The new center, which is located in the LakeView Technology Center, will provide Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for families and children who struggle with autism. The 8,700-square-foot facility includes 20 individual therapy spaces for students and trained therapists, an activity and indoor play center, consultation rooms, a large kitchen, and offices. A fenced-in outside play area is near completion as well.
The center will employ up to 30 clinical staff made up of therapists, clinical coordinators and board-certified behavior analysts.
"We are very pleased to open the Cornerstone Autism Center in the Tippecanoe County area and look forward to helping families with children who have autism and to helping the children in our care reach their highest potential," said David Ide, Cornerstone's co-founder and executive director. "Our center provides an intensive, research-based intervention to move our children forward in the areas of academics, behavior, communication, independence and social skills."
Ide and his wife, co-founder Debbie Ide, opened the first Cornerstone Autism Center in Greenwood, Ind. Ide did extensive market research before making the decision to open a second center in West Lafayette.
"The location of Cornerstone Autism Center in the Purdue Research Park will make it easily accessible for residents in the Tippecanoe County area," said Joseph B. Hornett, senior vice president, treasurer and COO of the Purdue Research Foundation. "The center also will provide opportunities for possible collaborations with Purdue University."
Oliver Wendt, Purdue University assistant professor of special education, said the new center will fill a very important need for families with children with autism.
"In the past, families struggling with this diagnosis had to hire a specialist to come into their homes or they had to drive to Indianapolis to seek help," Wendt said. "There has been a strong interest in opening such a center, and the services that the Cornerstone Autism Center will offer will be an important alternative for parents and caregivers in this situation."
Kerry Blankenship of Lafayette said the center will be a vital resource for parents who have children with autism. Blankenship has a 5-year-old daughter who has been diagnosed with autism.
"Having a center like this in this area is so important because it will provide resources that children with autism desperately need," she said. "It's valuable because it provides ABA trained specialists, and that's something we've never had before."
Ide said the center has received encouragement from the city and county to open a site in West Lafayette.
"The strong support we have received from Purdue, the city of West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County is a testament to the concern that the leaders, educators and parents have to help support children with autism."
Cornerstone Autism Center received a total of $40,000 in job training grants over a two-year period from the city of West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County.
"One of the important goals that we have is to recruit businesses that fill the needs of our residents," said John Dennis, West Lafayette's mayor. "The Cornerstone Autism Center clearly meets that goal by providing a safe place where children with autism can be served and where jobs will be created."
David Byers, Tippecanoe County commissioner, agreed.
"The investment in a job training grant like we provided for Cornerstone is a wise investment in the future of our county,” he said.
Also at the event were Vic Klinker, standing in for his wife state representative Sheila Klinker, who presented Ide with a certificate from the Indiana House of Representatives; and Resa Hodnett of Greater Lafayette Commerce, who presented Ide with the center's "first dollar."
Goals of the center include breaking through barriers to learning to address deficits, improving independence and quality of life. In addition, Cornerstone is poised to give caregivers the resources and training they need, provide a conduit for other resources such as physical therapies, provide logistical assistance such as insurance counseling and claims processing, and, if possible, provide transition into a traditional classroom environment.
Ide said another goal is to collaborate with Purdue University and its Purdue Autism Network. The network, which is managed through the university's speech, language and hearing sciences department, is an interdisciplinary group encompassing more than 30 clinical and research faculty across the university, as well as local professionals in public education and other fields who are dedicated to developing a center of clinical and research excellence.
The Ide family understands what a parent faces when their child is diagnosed with autism.
"Debbie and I have 13-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. Our son was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 and half years old, and it changed our lives. We understand the impact a center can have on a family and love being a part of that process. Our experience has provided the drive necessary to open our center in Greenwood last year and reach out to this community this spring.
"Autism is an issue that we are passionately dedicated to. We are committed to serving people who, like us, face the many challenges that autism has brought into their life. We are excited to be opening a center in West Lafayette, and we look forward to the opportunity of working with Purdue University and other support organizations in the area."
Sources: David Ide, (317) 888-1557, email@example.com
Joseph Hornett, 765-588-1040, firstname.lastname@example.org
John Dennis, 765-775-5100, email@example.com
Media contact: Cynthia Sequin, 765-588-3340, firstname.lastname@example.org