No time to waste for special needs kids!

Scientists, teachers, doctors, and parents all agree:

The preschool years are among the most critical times for development.

Preschool children learn to solve problems, to communicate with words, to form relationships, to tolerate disappointment, and to care for their own safety and health.

The early years have an enormous impact on each child's future. And this is especially true for young children with special needs.

Parents of typical children may take for granted how effortlessly their child acquired language or learned to brush their own teeth. But these milestones do not come as easily for children with conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, intellectual disability, developmental delay, cerebral palsy, or a genetic disorder.

These families want the same as anybody else!

Special needs kids want to learn in a group with their friends. They want to be invited to birthday parties, playdates, sleepovers, and sports teams. They want to be understood when they communicate their needs.

But without extra help during the early years, these children struggle to achieve their dreams.

High-quality early intervention is a crucial step in the path toward friends, fun, and independence. And simply put, children with developmental disabilities or delays do not have time to waste in ineffective therapies or educational programs.

The Problem

Arlington, Virginia families must make a choice: individual, insurance-funded therapy or public special education.

  • Health insurance companies dictate when, where, and how therapeutic interventions take place. Children enrolled in intensive, individual therapy miss out on group social opportunities.

  • Public schools inappropriately task special education teachers with treating complex developmental conditions. Children enrolled in school miss out on medically-necessary therapy.

These options are not in the best interest of our children, nor the best interest of our community as a whole.

Children who do not receive effective intervention become more likely to develop aggressive, dangerous, and disruptive behaviors. These behaviors stand in the way of learning. They limit access to general education and childcare, decrease opportunities for social support and recreation, and cause family conflict.

And as children grow older, services become more expensive and harder to find.

Families are exhausted by the task of cutting through red tape in order to access appropriate, individualized care for their special-needs children.

Other counties in Northern Virginia have more options. Why are Arlington's kids left behind?

Our Solution

The initial goal of the Arlington Sunshine Project is to provide developmentally-disabled preschool children with evidence-based therapeutic services in a joyful, social environment.

To achieve this goal, we will

  • Establish a learning center within Arlington County and staff it with expert Licensed Behavior Analysts (LBAs).

  • Provide high-quality, evidence-based intervention to develop cognition, communication, and social skills.

  • Teach the prerequisite skills necessary for preschool children to transition successfully out of our programs and into group learning in area public and private schools.

  • Expand access to compassionate behavioral therapies beyond those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and to a wider variety of racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Who We Are

Chair


The Arlington Sunshine Project was founded by Ally Patterson, PhD, BCBA-D. Dr. Patterson is local to Arlington and owns a small behavioral therapy practice where she works with families in their own homes. She has become disheartened by the for-profit therapy model.


Dr. Patterson has firsthand experience with the challenges families face when choosing between medically-necessary therapy or group learning. Unfortunately, even in Arlington, these challenges include inappropriate school placements and ineffective therapies.

In her clinical work, Dr. Patterson has de-escalated dangerous crisis situations with older children and adults who did not receive effective early intervention. She knows there is nothing more important than teaching the vital skills of communication and cooperation in a social setting.

Vice-Chair

Barbara Kaminski, BCBA-D, LBA received a Ph.D. in Psychology from the Behavior Analysis Training Program at West Virginia University. As a faculty member at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, she studied drug-taking and ways to prevent relapse.

Several years ago, Dr. Kaminski made a mid-career switch to a focus on applied behavior analysis with children with special needs. She is currently the Clinical Director of Green Box ABA, PLLC and teaches graduate level behavior analysis courses for George Mason University. She is also on the Executive Board for Heart House Inclusive Productions, a local non-profit theatre whose mission is inclusion in theatre arts.

Secretary

We are seeking board members! Please reach out if you have nonprofit experience and are interested in our mission.

Treasurer

We are seeking board members! Please reach out if you have nonprofit experience and are interested in our mission.

Join Us

Arlington Sunshine Project is a Virginia nonstock corporation currently pursuing 501(c)(3) status.

We are looking for Northern Virginians who can help! Join us to expand access to evidence-based, high-quality intervention for children who have developmental disabilities or delays.

If you would like to support this mission in any way, please get in touch.