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Local WVU grad opens Autism Center

Dominion Post - 4/28/2019

April 27-- Apr. 27--MORGANTOWN -- One West Virginia woman is making her dreams come true.

Haley Ramsey, with the help of her mother, Sherry, is opening the doors to Key Learning Autism Center in Mountaineer Mall.

The official opening is set for Monday. On Saturday, they held an open house to welcome families into the space.

Ramsey volunteered her time as a therapist at WVU's Autism Clinic, while attaining her undergraduate degree. She said she saw a need for services for autistic children using evidence-based treatment that changes lives.

"At that point, it became my passion to expand services," she said.

Sherry said her daughter didn't initially set out to work with autistic children. She wanted to be a counselor, but fell in love with working with kids on the spectrum. The summer going into her senior year, she decided she wanted to go to graduate school. She then went on to get her master's in special education and is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Haley thanked her parents who helped her open the center and making her dreams come true.

Sherry said KLAC hasn't really advertised much, though it currently has a Facebook page and a website, and there are already about 30 kids on the waitlist. At this time, they can serve 15 kids. Devin Parsons and Charlotte Arrington are also on staff, working with Haley.

"All three of these girls are from West Virginia, so a big reason we're doing it is I didn't want to see my kid and her friends have to leave the state for a job," Sherry said.

There are only 79 BCBA people in the state, and Sherry said most of them are working at WVU or Marshall as professors. Much of their work is also research-based.

"The two things we want to come out of this is: We want to serve kids with autism, and we want to be a training site for students from WVU and other nearby colleges to train more professionals in this field," Sherry said.

The location features office space, a play area and individual space for kids to work on skills. The center will take kids ages 2-10 and work on things like language skills and getting younger kids ready for starting school.

The therapy model for intensive behavior therapy is three years, 25-40 hours a week. Sherry said it's one of the biggest things lacking in West Virginia. There are only four centers in the state, with two located Morgantown.

"We're mostly just excited for the kids we're going to help out because it is such a life changing therapy. That's where my passion's at. To help those kids," said Haley.


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