MERRILLVILLE — An autism therapy center planned for the town is gaining momentum.
Brandi Smith received support from the Board of Zoning Appeals as she works toward her goal of opening the facility in November at 1583 E. 85th Ave.
Smith told town officials she has years of experience providing autism therapy.
Building Director Sheila Shine said Smith, a board certified behavior analyst, will oversee the facility located just off of Mississippi Street, and therapists will provide one-on-one services to clients.
Smith said many of her clients are between 5 and 9 years old, but her center will provide services to a wide age range that starts at 18 months old and reaches 21 years old.
Smith said intense therapy will be offered to help clients address a variety of issues, including communication, skills and behavior.
She said her center could start by serving five to seven clients. She will hire additional staff as it grows.
Smith said there is a significant need for such a facility in the Region. She said there are other autism centers in Northwest Indiana, but there are lengthy wait lists to receive services.
In addition to working with clients at the facility, Smith also will have at-home sessions available, she said.
Before she can open, Smith needs a special exception from the town to authorize the operation at the 85th Avenue location.
The board unanimously decided to give the request a favorable recommendation. The matter will be heard by the Town Council, which could take final action on it in October.
Several board members went beyond casting supportive votes for the center. Several officials commended Smith for pursuing the project and indicated they are looking forward to its opening in Merrillville.