Nonprofit provides free, early intervention therapy for children with autism

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A nonprofit in the Bronx is providing free, early intervention therapy for children living with autism.

The McCarton Center is a nonprofit funded by the city and free for all of its families.

It just opened in the Bronx in October.

The kids are all infants and toddlers up to age 3 years old who are living with autism or other developmental disabilities.

Joseph Cruz is 2 years old and has been a student at the McCarton Center since December. 

"As soon as we get in front of the school, he gets all happy, he’s like ‘bye mom, get out of here,’” says Joseph’s mom, Krystal Maldonado Cruz. "My son is nonverbal, but being here he's starting to communicate with gesturing.”

For two to four hours a day, they work one-on-one with a therapist to develop objectives and intervention plans from speech, occupational and sensory therapy to socializing with typically developing kids 

"We like to see where the child starts and where the child ends, we like to collect data to see what's working and to see what's decreasing and we have to change,” says teacher’s assistant Gabrielle Heskey.

Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning specific challenges can range from person to person and range in severity.

Those at the McCarton Center, however, say no matter how autism presents itself, early intervention can be key.

"For children on the autism spectrum, early intervention is crucial. Half of the babies we see here at this center because they get early treatment will be mainstreamed, meaning they will be in a typical classroom without support,” says McCarten Center CEO Whitney Loy.

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