Jan 8, 2024, WKU FM. Bowling Green, KY: ‘Puzzle Pieces’ launches early intervention autism center to meet Owensboro’s growing needs
An Owensboro nonprofit that assists those with intellectual disabilities is expanding to meet community needs.
Puzzle Pieces was founded in 2012 by current Executive Director Amanda Owen, whose brother has a rare chromosomal disorder.
Owen left her job as a full-time special education teacher to open Puzzle Pieces when she felt her brother and her students did not have a space to socialize with peers and learn skills for lifelong success.
“The intention behind that was to create a space for those individuals with disabilities to have the opportunity to learn skills when they graduate from high school and during after-school summer programs,” Owen told WKU Public Radio.
The team of over 100 helps those with intellectual disabilities learn about independence, life skills, community access, and involvement.
“We’ve grown over the years to be able to now offer a lot of different services and resources to over 430 individuals with disabilities ranging from all different levels and all different ages,” Owen added.
She noted the organization is growing even more heading into 2024 by expanding to include an early intervention center for those with autism.
The program will be targeted at those with autism aged 21 and younger. Participants will receive help enrolling in post-secondary education along with job placement within the community.
Additionally, the center will be housed in a new building, which will be used to accommodate the needs of other programs as well.
“We’re at capacity now in our current building. We have about 120 people on our waiting list, so with the expansion, it will allow us to serve more clients and grow to meet the growing needs of those with autism,” Owen said….