Heritage Unveils First-in-Industry Autism Sensory Center

Generous donation sparks new era in advanced therapy tools for autistic teens.

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Heritage announced today the opening of a state-of-the-art sensory center for treating autistic teens with generous donations from Vivint Smart Homes and Keller-Williams employees. This advanced sensory area is a first in the adolescent residential treatment industry and provides exciting new therapy tools for helping teens on the autistic spectrum.

“Heritage launched a strategic effort a few years ago to be a nationally recognized leader in treating autism in a residential setting,” said Keven Downs, Executive Director.  “We know that children on the autistic spectrum are challenged with sensory issues. This advanced sensory center will enable us to offer comprehensive therapeutic treatment to help students regulate their moods through sensory regulation.  Our desire is to help students gain the skills they need to manage their sensory challenges. This training will help them manage their sensory needs in the school setting and to live a more productive life when they return home.”

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“We are excited to be a part of Heritage’s vision to provide children on the autism spectrum with the most advanced therapeutic capabilities and tools available,” stated Holly Mero-Bench, director of charitable giving at Vivint Smart Home. “For many years, Vivint Smart Home has helped families and organizations create environments that help kids who are on the spectrum thrive. Our work with Heritage is particularly rewarding because of its close proximity to our own headquarters and its unique focus on treating these children in a residential setting.”

An advanced sensory center has been in the planning stages for some time. Keller-Williams employees contributed to the initial construction and organization efforts on their annual Red Day – a day dedicated to community service projects. Vivint Smart Homes then stepped in and coordinated with Heritage Treatment Center therapists to design and implement what would become an advanced state-of-the-art therapeutic environment.
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“We are so pleased with the joint effort of our partners who donated so much in terms of time, personnel and equipment. With their contributions we were able to expedite the launching of this wonderful facility,” Keven stated. “Keller Williams has helped Heritage in the past on other projects. Their initial work provided the platform for Vivint Smart Homes to complete the center with TVs, computers, iPads and many additional sensory items to make it a fully functional sensory area.”

Vivint sponsored a “Big Unveiling” event to introduce the center to employees and students and their families. “Many parents were visibly moved,” reported George Ballew, Peers Academy Clinical Director for autistic students. “They expressed so much gratitude when they quickly realized the benefits their child would receive from the extraordinary environment and tools now available for their child’s therapy and treatment.  The students also recognized how helpful this center would be and expressed their thanks.”

“The Peers Academy includes four components – PEERS social skills training, the Zones of Regulation, executive functioning training and sensory regulation,” George explained. “This addition to the sensory component strengthens the robust Peers Academy and will benefit students from all over the nation who come to Heritage.”

The sensory center includes items like balance boards and therapy balls; sand trays, kinetic sand and Legos; a lower stimulus area with areas to read or do art; a light room with fiber optic lights and projectors with visual stimulation; and a media room where computers and iPads donated from Vivint allow students to use special computer applications.

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