The Arc of Loudoun cut the ribbon on its new Aurora Behavior Clinic in the renovated historic Carlheim Barn at Paxton Campus in Leesburg on Wednesday.
The clinic gives individual therapeutic options for children with autism and other related disabilities. It first opened in October 2017—the same month the Arc of Loudoun broke ground on renovations—and moved into the nearly-150-year-old stone barns in August 2018.
The barn is part of the estate built in 1872 by Charles and Rachel Paxton, and which Rachel Paxton willed into a charitable trust to benefit needy children. And until October of last year, it had sat for years overgrown with vines and open to the elements. Now, it is a cozy, dedicated space to help children with disabilities.
“As a parent of a son with autism, I would’ve loved for something like Aurora Behavior Clinic to exist when my son was growing up,” said Aurora Behavior Clinic director Kendra McDonald. “We’ve taken the expertise of what we do at The Arc’s Aurora School and Open Door Learning Center preschool and created the clinic for children in the community that need intensive therapy. Moving into the Stone Barns allows us to serve even more of these children.”
Her clinic has a specialized curriculum focused on verbal behavior and increasing social interactions. The staff use Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, a type of therapy that uses positive reinforcement to encourage some behaviors and discourage others.
Inside the clinic, therapists work on clients’ social skills, communication skills, and appropriate behavior.
“There is nothing else like Aurora Behavior Clinic in Loudoun County,” said Lisa Kimball, CEO of The Arc of Loudoun. “What makes the clinic so extraordinary is that it is a one-stop-shop. The clinic has a highly-trained team of diagnosticians, Board Certified Behavior Analysts, Occupational and Speech Therapists, and ABA Therapists all at one place.”
McDonald said the clinic also helps parents by offering them guidance, support and training to help with their children’s learning outside of the clinic.
Today, the Aurora Behavior Clinic already serves more than 50 clients.
“I’ve already seen astronomical success in clients who went from not communicating at all to being able to read text, sign words, and talk vocally,” McDonald stated. “Our goal is to continue to grow and reach more people in the community that can benefit from our clinic.”
McDonald thanked the staff of Aurora at the ribbon cutting Wednesday for making that possible.
“You guys are amazing with your passion, vision, and expertise, and our kids are all lucky to have you,” McDonald said.
The Arc of Loudoun is a nonprofit organization that advocates for and provides direct service to people with disabilities, as well as their families, caretakers, and the professionals who work with them. It hosts a variety of programs at Paxton Campus in Leesburg, including the Aurora School, Open Door Learning Center Preschool, ALLY “A Life Like Yours” Advocacy Center, Aurora Behavior Clinic and Ability Fitness Center. In 2017 the Arc of Loudoun celebrated 50 years. It is also the nonprofit behind Shocktober.
To volunteer, support the Arc of Loudoun, or get help for a child with special needs, go to thearcofloudoun.org.