SAN MARCOS — Teens and adults with autism will find expanded services in the region with the grand opening of the Adult Center of Excellence, a center focused on natural environment training for older patients.
The Center for Autism and Related Disorders’ newest center held its grand opening on Feb. 23 and is the second of three teen and adult specialized outpatient services offered by CARD. The other two specialized centers are located in Duarte and Fresno within its more than 260 locations nationwide.
“San Marcos and northern San Diego County had a high rate of learners throughout four CARD centers at this point,” said Vanessa Alvare, CARD’s adult program manager. “(The region) was heavily populated and the need was here.”
Outside of San Marcos, there are six CARD centers in San Diego County that Adult Center of Excellence pulls its patients from Carlsbad, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Escondido, Poway and San Diego.
Operations Manager Aubrey Walke said that their patients come from all over San Diego County to the center specifically.
San Marcos currently hosts two of CARD’s centers in neighboring suites at 334 Via Vera Cruz. It’s original location services patients age 14 and under while the new facility will look to expand those services in the transition beyond high school and the K-12 system.
Walke said that beyond the San Diego County school district offerings of adult transition services, some patients may find it difficult on where to navigate next.
“For a lot of families, they’re not sure what the next step is after that and we kind of fill the gap for them,” Walke said.
While the center was officially opened in November 2019, its grand opening was postponed to better establish the center within the community and to have its patients settle into the new space and test its offerings.
Such offerings include a kitchen and dining area, a mock office space for studying and vocational training, an arts and crafts station, a mock bedroom and a general communal space that includes a resistance training station, a library and entertainment area.
Walke said that the main focus in these areas is to offer ways to create healthy habits and a daily routine that their patients can follow while they are taught those skills that might be overlooked by someone who doesn’t need them.
The center’s therapists also have the ability to travel beyond their location and work with patients within the county’s school districts, in college, as well as at their place of employment Alvare said.
“We know that they deserve the services, our teen and adult learners, and we’re ready to grow with them,” Alvare said.