St. Gerard House opened its doors in 2010 and since then has been a center of hope for individuals with autism and their families. Although this is when St. Gerard House began serving the autism community, the story begins many years before that.
In the year 2000, Caroline Long gave birth to Liam Patrick Gerard Blackwell. Liam was a beautiful and happy baby, but Caroline began noticing things about him that were unexpected. Although Liam was a joy to be around, he demonstrated very repetitive behaviors, and developmentally, seemed to be falling behind other children his age. At three, Liam was diagnosed with autism.
Two years after Liam was born, Caroline was blessed with her second child, Bridget. Around the same time that Liam was diagnosed with autism, Bridget was as well. Now, with two children that needed help and little understanding of what autism was, Caroline went to work. For months, she spent long nights studying. She wanted to understand autism from a fundamental level in order to make the right choice for her children. This is how Caroline discovered Applied Behavior Analysis.
Caroline found a therapist offering ABA and was astounded by the progress her children made with the therapy. After a little time, Caroline met Rachael Cushing Cook, who was one of Liam's first therapists. At this point, Caroline was fully aware of the lack of service providers offering ABA for children with autism in Western North Carolina. Caroline was impressed with Rachael's understanding and ability to implement ABA and told her that one day, she was going to open a center to provide comprehensive ABA programming and together, they were going to change the landscape for children with autism in WNC.
Today, St. Gerard House is providing ABA therapy, prevocational training, social skills classes, and a wide array of other services for individuals with autism and their families.