Center for autism ready to serve

The St. Nicholas Center for Children, Doré Center for Autism officially opened its doors on Sunday with a grand opening celebration.

The public was able to tour the center, which has a mission of enhancing the lives of children with autism, delays and disorders by providing therapy and family support.

Michelle Mudd, executive board member, said since 2008 the center has grown from three staff members to 57 staffers, and the center started out serving four children and is currently servicing 104 children.

“This is a multi-disciplinary pediatric medical facility,” Mudd said.

The center will offer behavioral, occupational, speech and physical therapy.

“Studies show that children who have a diagnosis make great strides with this type of therapy,” Mudd said. “Parents who have a child with a diagnosis have found it very challenging in the past to meet the needs of their child’s therapeutic program because they are having to run to different areas and places. If we have it all under one roof it helps the children and the families succeed.”

She said the various therapists are now able to collaborate together for a comprehensive program that compliments the other.

Christy Papania-Jones, executive director, announced at the ceremony that they have become an agency of the United Way. She also thanked William J. Dore´ Sr. for making the center a reality.

In May, the businessman donated $500,000 to the St. Nicholas Center for Children in Lake Charles — money that went directly toward work on the new building. The St. Nicholas Center named the new building — at 2519 Ryan St. — the Dore´ Center for Autism in his honor. The center was previously located on Broad Street.

“Continuing his passion for education, Mr. Dore´ generously donated to our cause,” Papania-Jones said.

Dore´ thanked the staff members for taking the initiative with the Center.

“Someone has to do this and you’ve done it,” Dore´ told the staff.

In total, more than $700,000 has been raised through the capital campaign.

Mudd said the Center aims to be the state model for a pediatric medical facility that provides comprehensive therapy for children with autism.

The grand opening was hosted by Dore´, His Excellency The Most Reverend Glen John Provost, Mayor Randy Roach, Honorable Willie Mount, Billy Navarre, Christine Perry and Tom Shearman.

Mudd said if a parent feels as if there child should be evaluated call the Center at 337-491-0800.