St. Joseph’s Villa has provided best-practice therapeutic and educational services to youth and children with autism for more than 30 years. One of the first programs of its kind in Central Virginia, our Early Autism Services are for children ages 2 to 5 with a medical diagnosis of autism. We provide expert treatment in a nurturing classroom setting.

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The Early Autism program is set on the Villa’s 82-acre campus where children have access to playgrounds, a gymnasium and sensory gardens. To schedule a personal tour or learn more, please click the above button or call Craig Hedley, Director of Community Partnerships, at 804-553-3226.

The Importance of Early Treatment

Research shows that treatment for autism at a young age can provide the most signficant gains in IQ and overall functioning.

Supervised by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, our staff will work one-on-one with your child to develop:

  • critical language and learning skills for success  in a school setting
  • daily functional routines
  • social and self-control skills  that can replace repetitive and challenging behaviors such as self-injury

We are committed to working with the families of children with autism to create a bridge from school to home and beyond, and offer caregiver trainings throughout the year.

Jakeman’s Story

Jakeman and his teacher in the Early Autism classroom

Jakeman and his teacher in the Early Autism classroom

Jakeman was a fun and loving baby, which is why his parents Rob and Jessie were alarmed when he suddenly stopped communicating a week after his first birthday. He no longer talked, made eye contact or responded to his name. Later that year Jakeman was diagnosed with autism.

Rob and Jessie took a proactive approach to find treatment and discovered the Villa’s Early Autism Services.  Rob and Jessie enrolled Jakeman in the program and noticed a huge improvement in his ability to communicate and play within a few short weeks.  “Jakeman didn’t even want to walk through the door his first day. Now he talks about school all the time and he’s making friends his own age,” said Jessie.  Rob and Jessie have a new sense of hope that Jakeman will eventually attend a regular school.

Watch the NBC12 news story about Villa’s Early Autism Services and Jakeman’s growth:

Program Day

We offer 3-hour morning and afternoon sessions.  Children can attend one of these sessions up to five days per week.

All services are based on best-practice Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) methodology. Behavior analysis is the study of the science of behavior and has been shown to successfully address the educational and behavioral issues for students with disabilities.

Depending on the child’s individualized service plan (ISP), a session may include:

  • Structured teaching – a system for organizing the environment, developing appropriate activities, and establishing expectations
  • Pivotal Response Training (PRT) – a naturalistic model that teaches language, decreases disruptive behaviors, and increases social, communication and academic skills
  • Imitation exercises – imitating fine and gross motor movements, sounds and words
  • Play therapy – teaching appropriate play skills with toys and peers
  • Speech therapy – consultation available
  • Socialization – understanding and engaging in social interaction

Data is collected and monitored on a continual basis.  Regular treatment planning sessions are held for each student to track educational and behavioral progress.

We welcome you to contact us and learn more about how your child can experience long-term benefits from early treatment at St. Joseph’s Villa.

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