Church on the Rise will welcome a new behavioral therapy program for children with autism to help them prepare for school and life.

City Council approved a conditional-use permit Sept. 5 for an educational intervention program at the church’s Community Center. The program will be run by BlueSprig, a Houston company focused on developing and assisting children with autism.

The new center at 3600 Crocker Road is expected to open by the end of September, said Director of Planning and Economic Development James Bedell. The city permitted the center to open with these conditions: The building must be a preschool facility, licensed child day care center or educational intervention program where the main use is a place of worship or public, primary, secondary or parochial school.

Children ages 3-4 with autism will have activities designed to increase social, emotional, physical and academic skills with the goal of preparing them for school. The program will see them through their college years and early adulthood as they seek employment opportunities. The company is accepting applications for its program online.

In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or autism, a disorder that affects one’s ability to communicate and causes behavioral issues. Over the next decade, 500,000 teens will age out of school-based autism services and almost half of adults in their 20s with autism have never held a paying job according to Autism Speaks.

“Autism is definitely a hard thing that people have to go through,” Church on the Rise Pastor Jordan Endrei said after getting approval from council. “It’s going to be an awesome thing to be able to have this group for our community that are going through something like this.”

BlueSprig provides services in Texas, Oregon, Oklahoma, Arizona, Missouri, Arkansas, South Carolina and Washington. The company’s other Ohio center is in Willoughby Hills.

The learning program was introduced to the Planning Commission in June. Church on the Rise will lease the Community Center, a separate building Albert Einstein Academy Used until it moved to North Olmsted, to BlueSprig.

“We’re excited to have them, they seem like great people,” Endrei said. “We’re excited that they’re going to bring a help to the community that we need.”

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