Piece By Piece Autism Center Puts Families First
Writer // Janelle Morrison Photography // Laura Arick
Families in Boone County who are looking for an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy clinic that is also a Medicaid Waiver Provider don’t have to go outside of the county for services for their children.
Piece By Piece Autism Center, located in Lebanon, opened its doors earlier this year and is already expanding. Founded by Zionsville resident Meghann Mitchell, Piece By Piece is a locally family-owned and -operated clinic that believes in empowering parents and helping children reach their full potential using evidence-based practices in ABA.
ABA therapy is an individualized, intensive one-to-one therapy that is used to develop various skills and overcome deficits, as well as to teach socially significant behaviors. Piece By Piece also offers behavior consultation to help facilitate treatment and to meet with families on a regular basis to discuss their child’s progress and any problems they are experiencing at home or in the community.
Mitchell’s path to where she is today is a convoluted tale with many fateful twists and turns that eventually led Mitchell and her husband, Luke, to moving to Zionsville and opening her first location in Lebanon. Mitchell received her bachelor’s degree in business administration while on a gymnastics scholarship at Missouri-Columbia and earned her master’s degree in ABA from Ball State University.
She began her path to becoming a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) as a paraprofessional at Klondike Elementary in West Lafayette, Indiana, where Mitchell’s mother, Mary Raub, was a kindergarten teacher.
Mitchell worked for a variety of ABA clinics in Indiana, as well as private employment for a family whose son is autistic, before she realized there was an opportunity for her to take her knowledge and love of children and open a clinic of her own, where she would not only be a Medicaid Waiver Provider but would also be able to run it the way she thinks an ABA should be run—always putting families and children first.
“Obtaining your BCBA is a very long process,” Mitchell explained. “You have to do so many supervision hours, and it’s kind of like a clinical psychologist or a doctor having to do their residency. I had met my husband, Luke, during that time. He was attending Purdue [University], and we did the ‘long-distance’ relationship thing throughout our entire relationship until we got married last year. When I started seriously thinking about opening my own center, I decided that I needed experience at different clinics. I had sold my house in West Lafayette, bought a house in Whitestown and took a job at a clinic off of 86th Street. I was in the process of taking my boards then.”
Mitchell knew in her heart that the clinic she was at then wasn’t the right fit for her, so she took a job at another clinic in Brownsburg, Indiana, and passed her boards. Fast forward, she and Luke married last year, and she decided it was time to take a leap of faith. With the support of her family, she and Luke have become Zionsville residents, and she opened Piece By Piece Autism Center in February of this year.
Within months of her grand opening, Mitchell and her staff have grown the clinic to capacity, have already moved to a new facility in Lebanon with more space and will soon have a fenced-in playground and be opening a second location in Frankfurt, Indiana, later this fall.
As a member of the Boone County Chamber of Commerce, Mitchell shared that she attributes the support from and promotion by the Chamber to kick-starting her expeditious growth.
“As soon as we became [Boone County Chamber of Commerce] members, they posted our logo and a little blurb on their Facebook page,” Mitchell said. “Within the first two weeks after that, we received 12 referrals. There had been several families waiting for a clinic—within driving distance—that would accept Medicaid, and until we opened, there wasn’t one in the immediate area.”
Mitchell shared what she would like for families to know about the benefits that they could receive from Medicaid on behalf of their child that they likely don’t get from their private insurance providers.
“I have basically built my entire business model off of Medicaid,” she said. “I know a lot of families can’t afford high deductibles, and just because you have insurance doesn’t mean it covers ABA. Private insurance doesn’t mean that they cover ABA. Medicaid covers all costs associated with ABA. With Medicaid, there are no deductibles, no copays. Most clients who need ABA need full-time intensive therapy, which is 40 hours a week. If you have a copay of $30 per visit, the math speaks for itself.”
Since Mitchell’s clinic also offers Behavior Management, she has also gone through the grueling process of becoming a Medicaid Waiver Provider.
“Behavior Management is not ABA but like ABA,” she said. “The Medicaid Waiver offers an additional allotment of money that families can use for certain services and therapies like Behavior Management that benefit their child with disabilities. In order to be a provider of all the Medicaid services, we had to first become a Traditional Indiana Medicaid provider, then we were able to apply for the other types of Medicaid.”
As the weeks lead up to the opening of Mitchell’s second location, her mother, Mary, has been preparing to take her BCBA boards and will retire from teaching to help run the Frankfurt clinic, and Mitchell’s father, Scott, will continue helping with all the billing for Piece By Piece and overseeing the maintenance of both its locations.
To learn more about Piece By Piece Autism Center, visit piecebypiececenter.com.