TUCSON, Ariz. — Laying on her back and scrolling through her iPad, Sophie Sams is giggling at her most recent learning show. She's 5 years old and has autism.
Her mother Patricia said Sophie was about a year and half when she started noticing the signs.
"Now my focus was on how I can help my daughter have a normal life, but still help her on the things she's lacking or the things she can't do," Veser said.
Patricia wanted to sign her daughter up for certain therapies as soon as the doctor gave the initial diagnosis, but you can't without specific tests and that took two years.
Now though, a new Autism Therapy Center is coming to Tucson. It's called Hopebridge. They want to provide extra resources to reduce how long it takes.
"You see so many families that do end up having to wait 6, 8, 12 months and more to receive the diagnoses and that's essential in order to begin intervention services," Kim Strunk, Chief Clinical Officer Hope Bridge, said.
Strunk said two thirds of families in Arizona have not enrolled their kids in Autism services because they're still on a wait list.
“Our key focus is to provide support and therapy services for as many children with autism spectrum disorder as possible,” said Hopebridge CEO Dennis May. “Many parents are searching for answers and need solutions. By bringing our centers to Arizona, hundreds of families will have faster access to autism diagnostics and ABA therapy closer to home.”
Patricia Veser said she sees the need first-hand in the community.
"Since the spectrum is so broad, there is a lot more children on it and a lot more children need this," Veser said. "These new places are going to be a god sent to be honest with you, because there's a wait list for so many things to do now."
For Sophie, the wait is now over and Patrica was able to enroll her in therapies like occupational and speech to get her ready for the transition to school.
"They are just like your children," Veser said. "My daughter will sometimes make those loud noises and scare the whole store, and everyone will be like 'AH', but she really is a sweet little girl, and she's just like your children she just does things differently and sees things differently."
Hopebridge is hoping to have 12 to 15 new facilities in Arizona by next year. The first one in Tucson is planning to open at the end of October at 9302 E. 22nd Street, Tucson, AZ 85710.