Illinois Center of Autism  
  Ways you can helpDonate

about illinois center for autism

Information {back to top}

VideoDear Friend of ICA, I wanted to share with you a remarkable
story that touched my heart and I hope will touch yours, too.

LaSonya was so excited to bring home her baby, D’errica (Dee Dee) fourteen years ago. As a new parent, she wasn’t really sure what to expect from a newborn. Things went fairly well for the first several years, but over time problems became increasingly prevalent at school. LaSonya tried home schooling as well as alternate school programs with little to no success.

Dee Dee, who has Down’s syndrome, also shows signs of developmental disabilities and behavior disorders similar to those with autism spectrum disorder.

Autism spectrum disorder affects 1 out of every 88 people in the U.S., with an estimated 150,000 people living with this life-changing disorder in Illinois. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 1 out of every 6 children have a developmental disorder.

Dee Dee never spoke an audible word to her mom because she couldn’t.  She wasn’t able to clearly tell her what she liked for breakfast, or if she was in pain.  Though LaSonya spoke to her constantly, their household lacked the shrieking and laughter typical of what was now a young teenage girl. Her own silence made Dee Dee’s world extremely limited.

The Illinois Center for Autism (ICA) reaches kids like Dee Dee at the level where they are, and we introduce them to life experiences, education and therapies that raise their abilities to the highest level possible from childhood through adulthood.

Dee Dee quickly learned to use electronics in our speech and language class.  Her nimble fingers could easily manipulate most any device and her communication possibilities skyrocketed.  Within a few months at ICA, a Nova Chat became her voice and one day LaSonya “heard” her daughter say “I love you” for the very first time.

We change the lives of kids and families because of the generosity of people who care – people like you. LaSonya shared that the changes to Dee Dee’s life over the past year have been enormous. Mom explained that her daughter is much more verbal and confident, and like most teenagers, full of spirit.

There are more than 400 other people we serve, who, like Dee Dee - and like you and me - have goals and dreams. We receive funding from a variety of sources, but, unfortunately, it’s not enough to ensure that all of necessary services are available. To provide these services, we still need to raise about $2,500 per person. That would be a little over $10 per day to help change a life forever. 

Practically a chatterbox by electronic standards, Dee Dee has so much potential.  And, now Mom knows her daughter loves her eggs scrambled, not sunny side up….

Please make your secure gift because every gift brings hope, health and happiness to people with autism and other developmental disabilities. Thank you for your consideration and we wish you and your family a very happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year.


Rachel C. Newsome

Director of Communications/Development

Illinois Center for Autism
548 S Ruby Ln
Fairview Heights, IL 62208

Susan Szekely
Executive Director

Troy Metheney
Assistant Director


Our Purpose {back to top}
The Illinois Center for Autism (ICA) is a not-for-profit, community-based, mental health treatment,
and educational agency dedicated to serving people with autism. Referrals are made through
local school districts, hospitals, doctors,and the Department of Human Services.



Mission Statement {back to top}
To educate and serve children and adults with autism to help them achieve their highest level of independence in their home, school and community.

The Illinois Center for Autism believes that each individual is unique and defined by possibilities and not limitations. Individuals have the right to education, training and/or services specifically designed to meet his/her needs in the least restrictive environment through the use of:

  • Innovative, research based methods and practices
  • An interactive and engaging atmosphere
  • Advocacy and choice to promote self sufficiency and lifelong independence
  • A positive approach to maladaptive behaviors
  • Customized support services and training offered to individuals, families and the community
  • Services provided by qualified staff who receive ongoing, specialized training



Programs {back to top}
Children Special Day School
Client and Family Support
Adult Services



Awards {back to top}
Illinois Governor’s Award
Community Services Award from AFL-CIO



Partnerships/Associations {back to top}
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
United Way of Greater St. Louis
SW. Il. Division of UW. Greater St. Louis
Tri-Cities Area Division of United Way
Oddfellows Ladies Grand Encampment
Clinton Mental Health Board
Madison County Mental Health Board
Randolph County Mental Health Board
St. Clair County Mental Health Board
St. Clair Jr. Services
Variety Club
Jocarno Foundation



Board Members {back to top}

Hardy Ware (Chairperson)
Kathy Hatton (Past Chairperson)
Thomas E. Berry (Vice Chairperson)
Gary Guthrie (Secretary)
Joy Rick (Treasurer)

Board Members:
Chris Fournie
Donna Mann
Robert Gantner
Jean Sampson
Debbie A. Tempel
Ron Randle
Marion Behrman
Lynn Morton
Kena (Ross) Gray
Michele Sasso




History {back to top}
1977       The Illinois Center for Autism (ICA) established a Children’s Special Day School Program.
1978       ICA was incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization.
1980       ICA received funding to initiate a Client & Family Support Program.
1987       ICA received funding to initiate day training program for adult clients.
1992       ICA opens “Pasta Fare,” gourmet Italian take-out eatery as part of their adult services.
1995       ICA entered its first partnership with a public school. Presently we operate 5 satellite rooms.
1997       ICA hosted an International Symposium on Autism with 17 renowned leaders of autism presented.
1998       ICA takes new approach and has students change classroom throughout the day. This policy continues.
2003       Petals Remembered is opened to give clients vocational training.
2003       Pasta Fare expands to a dine-in establishment offering more employment opportunities.
2006       ASD Training offered in the community to First Responders.
2008       Community Resource Library opened.
2010       Summer Day camp offered during summer break.
2010       ICA established a Social Skills training program for the general public.
2012       ICA celebrates 35 years of education and service to individuals with autism spectrum disorder
2012       Pasta Fare Restaurant celebrates 20 years of service to the Fairview Heights community.







Pasta Fare Petals Remembered
Enterprises of the Illinois Center for Autism
2012 Copyright Illinois Center of Autism. All Rights Reserved.
Designed, Hosted, and Maintained by Image Excellence