New autism center for kids opens in South Bend

NOW: New autism center for kids opens in South Bend


It was standing room only Sunday afternoon as parents learned about the newest center in South Bend available for children with autism.

“We’re trying to showcase those to the community and have local families come in to see what we’re about,” said Josh Smith, CEO of Riverbend.

Meridian Behavioral Health and the Gersch Academies partnered up to open up Riverbend on Niles Avenue, a private school for kids with autism and an outpatient ABA clinic, where the Madison Center used to be.

The facility is undergoing some major renovations for some really exciting changes at the moment.

“When we came to South Bend we realized there was a need for services in this area and found this wonderful building that we get to rehab and pump life back into,” said Smith.

Those renovations include two floors that will have new beds for residential and acute care for children with autism and developmental disabilities.

“We’re in the process right now of licensing 70 residential inpatient beds through the Department of Children’s Services here in Indiana and 32 acute private mental health beds through Family Social Services Administration,” said Smith.

“Smaller classroom sizes so by and large for children with autism spectrum disorders that’s really helpful,” said Leanne Sargent-Suarez, Director of Educational Services.

Riverbend also plans to organize their teaching around the students.

“If we have needs that are 6th 7th and 8th grade and maybe second and third, we will open up based on the needs of the community,” said Sargent-Suarez.

Representatives say it’s a combination of care in one spot that they’ve never done before.

“Providing a full program for children with developmental disabilities and for children with autism combined with the school is new for the both side of that entity. It’s cool to provide something all in one building that can be inclusive services for individuals and their families,” said Smith.

Reps say as they move forward, they’re hoping to open up other programs like summer camps and after school programs.

If you missed this open house another will be held on February 21st at 6pm. Click here for more information on the facility and Riverbend.

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