Mission Autism Clinic opens in Columbia County, highlights need for centers in rural areas

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BLOOMSBURG, COLUMBIA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A new clinic dedicated to helping those with special needs has opened in Columbia County.

Mission Autism Clinics opened their second location in Northeastern Pennsylvania in Bloomsburg, not an easy accomplishment in a pandemic.

People with autism can have difficulties doing every day tasks like speaking or socializing. That’s why specialized clinics like the Mission Autism Clinic are here to help.

“Individuals with autism learn in very different ways. So we take a skill and we can break it down into the smallest pieces possible and we teach it using reinforcement and other behavioral strategies,” Sonya Markey, lead board certified behavior analyst, said.

The clinic has rooms geared to teaching children and teenagers how to organize, make their beds and dress. The clinic also uses applied behavioral therapy to further help their students. Markey says it’s beneficial for them because the center allows for hours strictly focused on developing their skills. Markey tells Eyewitness News clinics like this are crucial in rural areas like Bloomsburg.

“It was much needed here. There aren’t too many agencies and clinics so there was a need and where there’s a need we want to be there,” Markey said.

The clinic officially opened its doors in late September but Markey says it wasn’t an easy feat to do during a pandemic.

“We can’t service as many, we can’t just bring in tons of clients at first cause we want to keep that social distancing,” Markey said.

The center is spacious, which Markey says is important because those with autism may not understand social distancing or why masks are important. Markey is excited the clinic has finally opened.

“It’s the most amazing feeling in the world to finally get started,” Markey said.

A third Mission Autism Clinic is planned to open in Sugarloaf in the next two months.

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