Early Autism Project, Inc., (EAP), a leading provider of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy to children who have autism spectrum disorders, today announced that founders Susan A. Butler and Ann Eldridge have received the 2013 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Southeast Region in the services category in recognition of their vision, leadership and achievement.
Early Autism Project, Inc. Founders Named Ernst & Young Southeast Entrepreneurs Of The Year®
SUMTER, S.C., June 10, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Early Autism Project, Inc., (EAP), a leading provider of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy to children who have autism spectrum disorders, today announced that founders Susan A. Butler and Ann Eldridge have received the 2013 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Southeast Region in the services category in recognition of their vision, leadership and achievement.
EAP provides ABA therapy, which is widely recognized as an effective, evidence-based treatment for autism and is covered by many private and government insurance providers, for children between the ages of 20 months and 21 years who have an autism spectrum disorder. EAP provides comprehensive services to children and their families in their homes, in EAP clinics and in schools throughout the country.
The business was born out of necessity in 1995, after Butler struggled to find an effective and convenient treatment program for her son, Collin, who was diagnosed with autism that year. Eldridge, who was then a special education instructor at Collin’s school, was encouraged to create a custom ABA treatment program after Collin showed dramatic improvements from participating in a workshop with the Wisconsin Early Autism Project (WEAP). Butler and Eldridge, now executive director of clinical services for EAP, partnered with WEAP to bring the program to South Carolina and in 2002 purchased the South Carolina WEAP assets to form Early Autism Project.
By 2007, EAP was serving large public school systems and private-pay patients. After 2009, when Butler and Eldridge helped facilitate the passage of “Ryan’s Law” requiring commercial insurers to provide autism treatment coverage in South Carolina, EAP’s revenue grew four-fold. In December 2012, EAP partnered with Educational Services of America, the nation’s leading provider of K-12 special and alternative education schools and programs for students who are at risk for dropping out and for students with special needs.
EAP now has 450 therapists providing services to more than 800 children each year. The company operates clinics in Columbia, Greenville and Sumter, S.C., and will open a clinic in Charleston, S.C., this month.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder.
“Our goal is to provide the most effective, highest quality, evidence-based treatment to children and young adults who have autism,” said Butler, EAP executive director of administrative services. “We want to continue to grow so we can create access to ABA therapy for as many children, families and school districts as possible.”
“We believe being recognized with the 2013 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Southeast Region will help raise awareness for ABA therapy,” Eldridge said. “We’re honored to work with so many children, families and school districts who understand the impact of this evidence-based therapy for children who have autism.”
Butler and Eldridge were selected for the award by a panel of judges from a pool of 90 applicants from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. As regional winners of the Ernst & Young program, Butler and Eldridge will now go on to compete at the national level. Winners in several national categories, including the National Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Overall Award winner, will be announced in November.
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Contact: Robin Embry, Lovell Communications Inc.