What We Do –
The Matthew Reardon Center for Autism is the only organization in southeast Georgia that operates an accredited, year-round education program for students with autism and one of only a handful of such programs in the entire state. While Advance Academy’s impact is restricted by size, our Outreach and Advocacy programs reach throughout southeast and coastal Georgia. Through our programs, intakes and consultations, we are like the proverbial pebble thrown in to the pond where the rings keep reaching wider and wider. MRCA provides assistance to children and families dealing with ASD and other developmental disorders in the immediate Coastal Empire and beyond. Over the past 15 years MRCA has directly served literally thousands of individuals, families, educators and professionals through our programs for advocacy, intern placement, intakes, outreach, therapy, education and advanced ABA training. With much appreciation, MRCA receives partial funding through the Georgia Dept. of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.
The Future –
Even as we celebrate the 15th anniversary of our incorporation, we are looking ahead to the next 15 years. The needs of the autism community have increased exponentially since we began, and we must respond accordingly.
In August, 2015, we opened a new middle school classroom, our first enrollment expansion since 2000. We are also preparing to admit children who require one-on-one support, offering intensive communication-based, multi-therapeutic and educational support with the goal of preparing and transitioning those
students into the group school setting. Expanded facilities will be requisite to our continued growth.
Our immediate goal for Advocacy, which is well underway, is to create and co-ordinate a centralized information network for all regional services related to ASD and other developmental disabilities. Advocacy is also taking the lead in working to identify and procure support services, to advise families and self-advocates of their legal rights, to instruct and guide families/individuals in the strategies of self-advocacy, IEP/BIP’s, etc., and to build and expand trusted support with our public school systems and other support agencies, both public and private.
MRCA continues to respond to requests from other schools, and public school systems, for BCBA services to help meet the needs of students in those schools. Services include observation, evaluation, development of IEP/BIP’s and oversight of IEP/BIP implementation and teacher training in ABA methodology.
Board of Directors –
MRCA’s BOD is dedicated to promoting the goals of the organization through financial support and strong leadership in the community, determined to position MRCA as an integral part of the solution to the growing needs, both current and future, of our autism community.
Historical Background –
Matthew Reardon is the youngest son of our founder, Kim Reardon. A kindergartener in 1994, Matthew contracted viral encephalitis at a time when Savannah did not have the facilities to adequately treat a child as seriously ill as he was. He was air-ambulanced to University of Miami’s Children’s Hospital where he spent about 6 weeks. The illness left Matthew with profound epilepsy. Together with their friends, Matthew’s family donated money to Memorial Health University Medical Center to fund an epilepsy unit, and years later when his grandfather died, an endowment was established for the creation of the Backus Children’s Hospital at MMC. As the years progressed, Matthew was plagued with daily grand maul seizures which eventually affected the speech center of his brain. Now 27 years old, Matthew lives with his mother in Decatur, GA, is non-verbal and continues to struggle with regular and severe seizures.
As Matthew’s immediate medical crisis faded, the realities of obtaining the continuing supports he required became the focus of the Reardon family. Kim’s path of seeking out medical and educational help for Matthew led her to Kennedy-Krieger at Johns Hopkins and then to the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta. She envisioned something similar in Savannah. A summer program began in the late ‘90s in partnership with the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System. The Matthew Reardon Center incorporated in 2000 and received its 501(c)3 status from the IRS in February, 2001. That year, we also began the full-year Advance Academy for students with developmental disabilities; focus was communication-based with multi-therapeutic interventions. In 2004, the Center hired a behavior analyst who incorporated the ABA (applied behavior analysis) methodology and from that point forward, 90+percent of our applications to the school program were for children and youth diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In 2008, our corporate name was modified to reflect our focus on autism.