She said the reason was simple.
"I didn't know anything about autism at all," said DelPrete.
And, worse yet, DelPrete didn't know where to turn.
That's not an issue today. Together with her cousin and his wife, they opened Lighthouse Autism Center in Mishawaka back in May.
"It's a huge disability right now," said DelPrete. "1 in 88 children – the percentage is very high for a need."
As the need grows, so does the number of facilities in our area.
BACA, the Behavior Analysis Center for Autism, opened in January in Elkhart.
And in July The Logan Center will assist children at the former Bridges Preschool in Granger.
Right now, therapist work with children in converted office space.
"When the ultimate goal is to get the kids to transfer to a less restrictive environment or a school, you want it to look similar to the setting they'll be transferring to," said Nikki DeWitt, clinical director of autism at the Logan Center.
The three organizations use what's called Applied Behavior Analysis.
- Language/Verbal Behavior
- Daily Living Skills
So how does it work?
Think of a pizza or pie chart – therapists break down skills into small manageable pieces to make it easier for an autistic kid to learn.
"A year ago, there wasn't the option you have now," said DelPrete.
Nancy Warren with the BACA in Elkhart said the need for facilities that work with autistic people is growing.
Warren said choices are a good thing.
Interested in any of the programs? You can ask for a referral from your child's doctor, or you can call one of the centers directly for a tour and more information.