Since the late 1980s, a growing number of North Carolina and South Carolina parents have pursued services for their children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In 1992, a parent group, Autism Treatment Options (ATO), held a conference featuring speakers on new and alternative treatment methods for their children. Dr. Ivar Lovaas, the director of the Young Autism Project at the University of California, Los Angeles, was the featured speaker. The proceeds from the event allowed the organization to help set up a replication site to serve families in North Carolina and South Carolina.
The replication site, Autism Research Center (ARC), served children with ASD throughout the southeast with workshop mode, home-based programs.
In 2000, a group founded Families for Early Autism Treatment of North Carolina, a not-for-profit organization of parents and professionals with a mission to help families with children with ASD. Their objectives were to promote the use of applied behavior analysis (ABA) as a proven, effective treatment for autism; to increase the number of children using ABA; and to educate medical, educational, political and lay communities about autism and ABA. ABA is the application of behavioral principles, such as prompting and reinforcement, to produce socially significant improvement in human behavior. In addition, a group of individuals in Winston-Salem, NC started a fund to help create a program that would provide ABA services to families who could not otherwise afford them.
In 2002, the ARC and FEAT of NC combined efforts to create ABC of NC, an organization offering center-based one-on-one instruction, small group instruction, parent education services, and professional seminars.
ABC of NC combines a variety of evidence-based teaching strategies such as discrete trial training, verbal behavior, natural environment training, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and fluency training. All teaching methods are science-based (i.e. proven effective) and individually tailored to the needs of the children.The center has been funded by a variety of sources—tuition, grants, public funding and monies obtained through fundraisers.
In 2011, ABC of NC earned accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI). SACS CASI provides nationally-recognized accreditation, the purpose of which is continuous school improvement focused on increasing student performance. To earn accreditation, schools must meet SACS CASI’s high standards, be evaluated by a team of professionals from outside the school, and implement a continuous process of school improvement. SACS CASI accreditation assures parents that ABC of NC is meeting nationally accepted standards for quality and successful professional practice.