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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Ambulatory & Primary Health Care, Developmentally Disabled Centers, Disabilities, Education, Health, Human Services, Rehabilitative Care, Special Education

Mission: Since 1982, NMTSA's mission is to provide preventative and rehabilitative neurologic music therapy services as well as community education and training to provide positive behavioral and communication supports for persons with neurologic impairments, autism or developmental disabilities. NMTSA exists to provide these programs and services not only to those who can afford them but also to those who cannot. ACT (Assuming Competence Today) is a literacy-based program within NMTSA that serves children with autism who have not succeeded in their regular district programs due to behavioral, sensory, and/or communication needs. ACT's goal is to meet those needs within a challenging literacy-based program, and to then integrate those children back into inclusive settings within their own districts.

Target demographics: Persons of all ages with autism, neurologic impairments such as Parkinson's, strokes, traumatic brain injuries as well as developmental disabilities in the state of Arizona.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 300

Programs: Neurologic Music Therapy program and ACT School (Assuming Competence Today) for children with autism

Community Stories

2 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Board Member

Rating: 5

The difference between ACT School and our son’s prior ‘educational environment’ is so vast it’s difficult to describe. Our son was diagnosed with autism at 18 months old, and by 20 months we had a full ABA-style program running out of our house. At 3 years old he entered the local public school’s early intervention program, where he began to struggle. Everybody pointed to the new environment, more people, more distractions, etc., as reasons why he would tend to do better at home, and we agreed it made sense. Unfortunately, the gap between our son’s progress at home and his progress at school continued to widen. 3 years and 5 classroom placements later we were presented IEP goals which were almost identical to his original intake goals – basically, the school system had been unable to teach him a single thing in 3 years and was ready to classify him as mentally retarded and put him in a classroom where learning wouldn’t be required! Fast forward to ACT School, and our son’s life has changed dramatically. From a purely academic standpoint, our son was being *taught* the same things every school-aged kid gets to learn. He excelled immediately, soaking up everything he could with a smile on his face. Seeing his schoolwork come home in his backpack each week has been amazing – math, spelling, creative writing – it’s a far cry from our previous experiences seeing notes about whether or not he cried, slept, or ate his lunch. In 2.5 years at ACT School he has learned enough to skip a grade; last spring he took the AIMS test at a higher grade level than the number of years he’s been in school! But the difference is far more than academics. Our son is learning about himself. How to communicate better (which had been a source of frustration). The importance of controlling his own body (and how to do it) compared with the crutch of having somebody else hold him steady. The hard work and small steps required down the long path towards independence... And these differences permeate throughout the rest of his life – he’s a happier, prouder, more confident kid than he’s ever been in his life. As an example, this summer we watched him independently make a new (typical) friend at a public swimming pool, whom he then swam and played with for the next hour – it was a satisfying, gratifying, proud-parent moment! ACT School.. Assuming Competence Today - I can’t imagine where we would be as a family or what life would be like if our son hadn’t enrolled at ACT School. Fortunately I don’t have to.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Our son, Matthew, now 19, has been a client of NMTSA for about a decade. He has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and is very limited in his verbal communication and social skills. One huge motivator for Matthew is music. He loves it! It's helped us open the door to more meaningful communication and interactions. Matthew has learned how to project his voice, which started as a whisper; slow down and better pace his speech; and better comprehend language and lessons when added to song. In addition, NMTSA was helpful when we experimented with an augmentative communication device and worked on articulation issues. We're most grateful to Suzanne Oliver, Jennifer Hempel and her team at NMTSA for their clinical expertise, professionalism, compassion and belief in our kids of all ages. Denise, Matthew's Mom