Poe opens local autism clinic
Beyond the Label is not new to Shelby County. What is new
is a clinic that opened in March, the first of its kind here, to offer one-on-one services to patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities up to the age of 26.
The clinic’s Open House is April 27 from noon to 2:30 p.m. Founder Melissa Poe, who also co-founded Beyond the Label LLC in 2013, invites the public to come and see the 120 W. Jackson St. clinic. There will be giveaways, food, and crafts for children.
Beyond the Label, a home- and community-based service, provides patients with one-on-one specialized treatment and family support services in regions of Indiana, Ohio and northern Kentucky. Staff members bring services directly to families.
It’s a seemingly simple concept, but not without hurdles. Shortly after starting her career, Poe realized several different families interested in enrollment into treatment programs faced roadblocks with insurance companies that would not cover home-based treatments. Various companies would, however, pay for treatments if the treatments were provided from a service center or clinic.
That hit a nerve with Poe who said at the time she thought, “How dare an insurance company dictate what a child is going to be receiving or is not going to be receiving for services. How unfair. I knew we had to do something to change it.”
So in time, Beyond the Label started opening clinics in permanent structures to make treatments accessible to families whose insurance will not support home-based services but will support clinical services, or provide the treatment option to the child that may respond better in a clinic setting, according to Poe.
“We make treatment work for the family. We don’t diagnose, we treat,” said 29-year-old Poe, a native of Shelby County.
Poe, who graduated in 2008 from Shelbyville High School as Melissa Harness, started her professional career path by obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Purdue University, followed with a Master of Arts degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Ball State University with autism as her focus. A mother to two young children, Poe is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in behavioral health.
“The more equipped I can be, the more successful (patients) can be from our program,” she said. Poe is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, which is a national certification for her profession. She analyzes patient behavior in order to develop their abilities in areas including language and social skills, functional living (meal preparation, toileting, shopping skills), and health and safety practices.
Anything, she said, that transfers into their home setting.
She works with a team that includes other behavior analysts and behavior technicians.
“This is a one-on-one treatment approach,” she stressed. “We have multiple programs going on at once, though.”
The Shelbyville clinic has six different treatment rooms, two kitchenettes, two bathrooms, a conference room for staff training and family support sessions, and a reception area, according to Poe.
“My intention was to make it a home away from home. A place where patients are having fun while learning,” she said. “The use of the space is multifunctional.”
There is also a laundry room that allows work on laundry skills like matching clothes, hanging clothes, and folding clothes.
Her husband, Trevor, spearheaded the renovations to match the vision Poe had for the inside the clinic. Additional family members and friends also provided manpower to complete the transformation of the clinic’s two suites that had been vacant for many years.
Poe shared excitement about the clinic’s location.
“It’s at the heart of the downtown area,” she said. “We have access to restaurants, stores, hairdressers, the library, fire house, banks, chiropractors, dentists, the Farmer’s Market, parks, the Strand Theatre, everything, all within walking distance. We can teach them true skills outside of the building.”
For instance, she said, if you get lost, you can go up to a firefighter. “We can continue to make a bigger impact on our community, too,” she said.