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Baton Rouge, LA: ABA center sees 200 kids/day; "they still have a huge waiting list"

April 23, 2024, WAFB9,  Baton Rouge, LA: The Emerge Center celebrates 10 years providing autism resources

Anchor: April is Autism Acceptance Month, and it also happens to mark the 10th birthday of the Emerge Center in Baton Rouge.

The Center helps kids with autism thrive by offering things like speech and occupational therapy and other specialized programs.

Anchor #2: But the demand for their services seems to grow each and every year.

Reporter: Birthdays often mark major milestones, and that’s no different for the Emerge Center in Baton Rouge which celebrating 10 years serving kids with autism and their families.

Deanna Whittle, Emerge Center CEO: 10 years ago, the prevalence was one in 59 children were being diagnosed.

Today it’s one in 36 children.

Reporter: This Emerge Center is just the later version of a mission that began 60 years ago with the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation.

Today the facility provides a one stop shop of therapies, support and education for young kids.

A typical looking 5 year old was shown at the center with his parents.  . . .

Samuel is just one of 200 children who will come through Emerge each day, while that’s double the number of children they could serve 10 years ago, the center’s CEO says they still  have a huge waiting list.


Whittle: Keeping up with that demand is a struggle. We’ve taken areas in their building …that were meeting rooms, and we’ve converted them into classrooms. . . .

Anchor #2:  The Emerge Center is also home to the Emerge School which is a charter school specifically for kids with autism. It serves kids from kindergarten through third grade.


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