Community leaders, state representatives unveil new Appalachian Valley Autism Center in Prestonsburg

Weekday broadcast of WYMT Mountain News at 6
Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 7:13 PM EDT
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PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Local leaders, medical professionals and state representatives gathered in Prestonsburg on Wednesday for the unveiling of the Appalachian Valley Autism (AVA) Center.

“Today, children on the autism spectrum and in the region are getting the very best services,” said Governor Beshear.

This facility is the second AVA Center, with the first located in Pikeville. This new location offers 16 job opportunities and is able to welcome up to 25 earners.

“To know that we’re among the leaders of the nation in that regard is really prideful, so I stick my chest out,” said Congressman Hal Rogers.

For Pikeville Medical Center President & CEO Donovan Blackburn, whose granddaughter Ava inspired him and his wife to open the center, he is excited to see how this facility will impact the community.

“We’ve had a four-year-old, five-year-old, seven-year-old, say their very first words; to see a father drop down to his knees in tears and say, ‘I never thought I would hear my child say I love you,’ wow,” said Blackburn. “You can’t help but get emotional.”

The facility will welcome learners from two to ten years of age and offer speech, feeding, occupational ABA therapies.

With more than 500 children on the waiting list to enroll in the center, those with the AVA Center said they hope to build more throughout the region.