Health & Wellness

Hills & Dales AutismHD Clinic Expansion

Hills & Dales is announcing the opening of three new AutismHD Clinics in eastern Iowa. The AutismHD program provides Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, an individualized treatment plan for eligible children diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Laura Keehner, Autism Services Director, said, “The new locations have improved therapy for clients by creating more “breathing room” at all of the facilities and by allowing access into the clients’ communities.” Hills & Dales first began providing ABA therapy in 2014, with the program experiencing significant growth due to need within the community.

What is the Role of Hills & Dales?
The mission of Hills & Dales is to build meaningful lives for individuals with disabilities by offering services that support the whole person and enhance community inclusion. Since its founding in 1973, Hills & Dales has maintained a focus and emphasis in serving children who have significant disabilities and who are medically fragile. Over the years, Hills & Dales has expanded to offer a lifespan of services.

Additionally, the organization has responded to a growing need for autism services, especially for children with interfering behaviors. Beyond the clinic setting, Hills & Dales also provides twenty-four hour residential support, supported community living, and respite services for individuals diagnosed with autism.

What is the Impact of ABA Therapy?
Children on the autism spectrum often struggle with many daily tasks other children may pick up easily: basic speech, using the bathroom, eating a meal, or playing with others. Behaviors learned through ABA transform every corner of a child’s life. It stabilizes and improves their experiences at home, at school, and out in the community. Interactions with parents, siblings, classmates, and friends are all improved when children with autism are able to communicate effectively, to understand and respond to emotions, and participate in activities within their homes, schools, and communities. Effective and early intervention play an important role with autism, as life skills learned at a young age will directly affect the opportunities open to them later in life.

How does ABA Therapy Work?
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) includes an individualized plan based on the child’s identified needs, and is the only proven, evidence-based treatment program providing lifelong, positive outcomes for individuals with autism. ABA is widely recognized as the gold standard for autism therapy. Hills & Dales offers ABA services with Board certified behavior analysts and highly trained behavior technicians (minimum of a four-year degree in a related field). This vital therapy includes interventions and strategies, parent/caretaker support and training, and case management leading to successful outcomes for each child and their family.

Why were New Clinics Needed?
AutismHD recently made the transition from providing services in local schools to providing them at the AutismHD Clinic in the Hills & Dales Community Center in Dubuque. With the increase in children on referral lists, it was imperative to expand, especially to further support children and their families in the more rural areas and counties surrounding Dubuque. Marilyn Althoff shared, “As we evolve, we have always responded to the emerging needs of children and families. This was a natural expansion of the total work we do.”

This family-centered therapy is focused on early intervention, so providing timely access within or near their home communities will help fill a large service gap. The new locations also help reduce transportation barriers by providing therapy closer to home and school.

Where are the AutismHD Clinics Located?
The three new clinics expand autism services in Dubuque, Dyersville, and Maquoketa. The new Dubuque clinic, located at Windsor Park, and the Dyersville clinic, located in Southridge Plaza, opened on Monday, June 10. The Maquoketa clinic, located in Second Street Plaza, opened on Monday, July 1. The original AutismHD Clinic is located at the Hills & Dales Community Center on Stoneman Road in Dubuque.

The expansion, transition, and growth to new spaces and locations were carefully planned. Aspects such as lighting, noise, and green space were all carefully considered as well as how the children would respond to the new locations.

To learn more about Hills & Dales autism services, call 563.556.7878 or visit

Editor’s note: This article was provided by Hills and Dales.

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