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Co-founder Joanna (above left) and Co-founder Catherine (above right)

The idea for ADE began over 20 years ago when our family learned that our brother & son Nicholas was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, a developmental disability which affects social, cognitive and communicative functions in the brain. At the time of his diagnosis, Catherine (Nicholas’ mother & ADE founder) learned that early intervention and high quality services were critical to her son’s successful development.

Doctors referred Catherine to government-funded services, which offered limited choices in therapies and a wait time of 2 to 3 years before receiving any services at all. Catherine chose to offer Nicholas immediately available private therapy services, rather than putting his fate in the hands of the public system. This option was costly and required a great deal of time and coordination to attend weekly appointments with specialists, at different times and locations throughout the city.

However, this commitment was critical in order to offer Nicholas a chance at a successful and independent life. Catherine, a single mother at the time, had to get creative and resourceful with her son’s new therapy schedule by shifting her career path and becoming an entrepreneur in order to gain control over her time and financial resources. Today, almost 20 years later, many families still are faced with the same challenges: limited accessibility, costly services and a logistical nightmare.

After meeting so many families faced with the same challenges, Catherine made a promise to herself that she’d change the narrative by helping to find a solution for the situation. ADE’s founders Catherine Margonis and her daughter Joanna Colida have made it their mission to advocate for some of the most vulnerable, specifically children with Autism and special needs. With Catherine's experience and Joanna's professional background, the founders created a safe space for children to receive high quality, accessible, and integrated preschool and child development therapy services.

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Nicholas (left), his sister and brothers

Nicholas' story of success pays tribute to the importance of a family’s dedication, perseverance, and resourcefulness. At the time of his diagnosis, doctors and professionals predicted that Nicholas would never speak, graduate school, or be able to find employment. Today, Nicholas demonstrates his independence as an adult by working as a valued employee, enjoys a busy social life, and aspires to continue his education and learn to drive a car.

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