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Helping neurodivergent locals RISE

RISE Behavioral Services is the premier locally owned and operated facility in Zachary providing Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children ages 2 to 16 who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Owner Donyelle Clark-Kennedy is a licensed and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who opened the clinic in 2019 to serve autistic individuals in an area with limited resources for neurodiverse individuals. Patients work with their team of therapists on their individual plans of care under the supervision of a BCBA. RISE limits the number of families served at one time to maintain manageable caseloads for Clinical Supervisors. Service intensity is based on medical necessity, and that determines how long per day and how many hours per week a child attends therapy.

The goal is not to change who they are. It’s to increase opportunities for social engagement and relationship-building.

— Donyelle Clark-Kennedy | Owner, RISE Behavioral Services

Research suggests 30-40 hours a week for early intensive behavior intervention, or EIBI.

The 3,000-square-foot facility has one large group room and nine smaller, themed learning centers to address treatment goals through fun activities like reading, arts and crafts, and sensory activities. RISE offers an After-School ABA program and social groups to work on skills such as making friends, improving executive functioning, conversational skills, and resolving conflicts in an appropriate way.

The goal of each treatment plan is to increase socially significant behaviors, Clark-Kennedy says, and these skills increase quality of life, independence, and ability to self-advocate. 

“It’s not about teaching scripts,” she explains. “The goal is not to change who they are. It’s to increase opportunities for social engagement and relationship-building.”

Success is individualized, and so is each treatment plan at RISE. 

Donyelle Clark-Kennedy, Tamira Johnson, Olivia Streat and Andrea Vinning.

“I want to make sure that your quality of life as a person is maximized,” Clark-Kennedy says. “Success is not, ‘I can’t even tell he has autism!’ Our goal of success is not to make your child look less autistic, or to appear to be typically developing,” Clark-Kennedy says. At RISE, the goal is to support families, and foster independence based on unique abilities. For instance, progressing a child from nonverbal to a public speaker; or a 7-year-old who is not potty-trained learning to change himself, which protects his dignity as he gets older.

The goal of the RISE program is to transition children to school in the setting most appropriate for them. Some children may transition into a general educational setting, while others may require more support and receive special education services. When children transition to school, RISE still meets with parents at least monthly to provide support and caregiver collaboration–helping to incorporate strategies learned in therapy in the home. Clark-Kennedy says the sigh of relief from parents when they feel like they have a partner is one of the most rewarding parts of the job.

“When God allowed me to open an ABA Therapy center in my hometown, I wanted to make sure each family felt heard and supported. I cannot express how much I appreciate our team for ensuring that every child is treated with compassion, while receiving quality services,” Clark-Kennedy says.

Not all states’ Medicaid plans include ABA coverage, but Louisiana’s does. The other great news is that the state Families Opportunity Act increased income limits, offsetting costs for families that would otherwise not qualify for Medicaid services due to a higher household income. For more information on FOA, visit ldh.la.gov.

RISE Behavioral Services is located at 9305 Main Street, Ste. E, and can be reached at 225-278-1020, or online at rise-aba.com.


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