Left to right: Donna Leigh-Estes, executive director of ABA Academy; Jacque Ruch, vice president of programs for Easterseals Southwest Florida; Tom Waters, president and CEO of Easterseals Southwest Florida; and Mary Beth Bos, president of the ABA Academy board, at the ABA Academy in Sarasota

The Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Academy and Easterseals Southwest Florida, two nonprofits that similarly serve individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities and their families, have formed a strategic partnership to share services in order to fill educational gaps and create programming. The strategy combines the skill set, strengths, teamwork and leadership from both organizations. The ABA Academy’s experience in applied behavioral therapy, one of the foremost research-based therapy approaches for autism, pairs well with Easterseals Southwest Florida’s extensive therapy, early intervention, education, family support services and broad range of autism services.   

Each nonprofit will function as separate entities. As part of the alliance, Easterseals Southwest Florida will continue to provide a preschool and kindergarten program at its Braden Avenue location in Sarasota. ABA Academy and Easterseals' Southwest Florida's Easterseals Academy will also operate a school for first-grade through seventh-grade students at 7555 Claxstrauss Drive in Sarasota. And at the new DeSoto Club location of Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, Easterseals Southwest Florida and ABA Academy will provide an alternative educational program for students age 14–22 years old who are eligible for Exceptional Student Education (ESE) services. The program provides transition services, including post-secondary employment, education and/or training and independent living. Students will receive instruction in health and wellness, community integration, recreation and leisure and social skills development. 

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