A school for one
When Mike was born in 1990, his parents quickly realized that he was no typical boy. Though the challenges they knew he would face were great, they were determined to get him the very best help to help him achieve his greatest potential. They spent countless hours researching before contracting nationally known experts to set up an on-home Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program for Mike.
Mike made significant progress though the intensive 1:1 ABA program. Despite the odds, Mike gained the skills that would allow him to read, write, play, and communicate with his friends and family. In 1997, an undergraduate special education student, who had overcome her own learning challenges joined Mike’s team.
Amazed at Mike’s progress from his ABA program, Jill knew she had found her calling and that this type of intervention had to be available for more kids. So, she enrolled in the world’s first graduate program in behavior analysis at the University of North Texas. Her work there and with privately hired consultants allowed Jill to learn from multiple experts in the field. After operating an ABA consulting business for families and schools in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, in 2006, those famous country roads led her home, making Jill the first Board Certified Behavior Analyst in southern West Virginia.
Mike’s family was one of the first to hire her after her return to West Virginia. Jill helped new members of Mike’s team learn the ropes of ABA, just as Mike’s parents had done with her. Before long, it became clear to everyone that public school was unable to meet Mike’s needs, and with the help of original team members Teri Leffler and Alexis Spence, Bright Futures was born as the “school for one” in the kitchen of Jill’s grandmother’s house. The small, committed group grew larger with the additions of Sarah Dooley in 2010 and Mike’s mom, Beverly McCoy, signed on full time as she completed her BCBA.
Although ABA is the gold standard in treatment for autism, funding sources were nearly non-existent. Insurance companies refused to cover treatment or autism, most schools refused to provide ABA services without lawsuits, and even fewer families could afford to pay for private services on their own. Bright Futures’ team members partnered with parents and other ABA providers in West Virginia to form Mountaineer Autism Project, a nonprofit grass-roots advocacy group. Their efforts were rewarded when their fight for autism insurance reform became law. The law mandates insurance cover treatment for autism, including ABA. With the significant improvement in access to funding for ABA treatment, Bright Futures was able to expand beyond a church classroom, and opened its own clinic in 2012 in Hurricane.
Greater access to funding meant greater demand for ABA services, with more families turning to Bright Futures for the best help for their children, and more team members coming aboard to provide exactly that. It didn’t take long to outgrow that original clinic location, and in June 2017, Bright Futures moved to a 7,300 square foot, custom built home setting on nearly three acres of beautiful property. This new facility allows the ever-growing Bright Futures team to continue providing the best care for children with autism and other developmental delays.
Although Mike graduated from Bright Futures a few years ago, he’s still a part of our team. He helps with quality control, lends a hand in training new staff, and anywhere else he’s needed. Mike helped bring all of the staff at Bright Futures together in one way or another, which makes him a big piece of our puzzle, and consequently a big piece in the puzzle for each and every family serve.