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New company aimed at families with autism

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A behavioral healthcare company has set up business in Albuquerque to help children and families living with autism.

Centria Healthcare, which is based in Michigan, said it hopes to offer clients assessments and diagnoses, prepare treatment plans with board-certified analysts and provide therapy, both in homes and in a clinical setting.

For-profit autism therapy programs, such as the ones run by Centria, have also created jobs for analysts, therapists and client services managers. The company, which opened its first New Mexico office at 6100 Seagull NE, already has 15 employees on board, said Matt Blouin, Centria’s director of marketing.

As the client load grows — the U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates one in 45 children has autism —  Centria has an aggressive goal of expanding its New Mexico operation to 200 therapists, technicians and client services managers over the next 18 months.

Blouin said the company is credentialed with Centennial Care Medicaid and all commercial insurances in New Mexico, giving it a revenue stream to set up business in the state.

Families, many already reeling from lost income, out-of-pocket expenses and the stresses of caregiving, can get help from Centria case managers in navigating the complexities of insurance and care, said Blouin.

With little guidance for many health care professionals, parents often feel alone to plot a course for their children, he added.

“There’s a lot to juggle medically, educationally and socially” for children with autism spectrum disorder,  or autism, said Blouin. Both are general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.

The medical literature suggests early diagnoses and therapies can lead to positive outcomes for autistic children as they move through the education system and become adults, said Blouin.

While Centria staffers are reaching out to healthcare providers and social workers to build a referral network, they also are looking forward to holding Autism Awareness Nights for families and children in the coming months.

Founded in 2009, Centria serves children and young adults with autism in Michigan, Texas and New Mexico. In addition to autism services, Centria provides home-based catastrophic injury rehabilitation, private duty nursing and supportive living services.