Virginia Center Offers Free Resources for Navigating Autism Diagnoses

3 min read

In rural Southside Virginia, families grappling with the challenges of an autism diagnosis are finding solace and support at the groundbreaking Bailey Center. This first-of-its-kind facility, named after a child diagnosed with autism, offers a sensory-friendly space that goes beyond traditional therapies.

For families like Hannah Rethman, whose four-year-old son Logan has nonverbal autism, the center provides a safe environment where children can be themselves and engage in activities tailored to their needs. “He walks in those doors, and he knows that he can be himself,” says Rethman. “He can play in a safe environment.”

The Bailey Center is not just a facility; it’s a culmination of an eight-year dream that began with the launch of FEAT (Families Embracing Autism Together) in 2016. This non-profit organization, co-founded by Mandi Calhoun, focuses on providing free education, training, and resources to families impacted by autism and other disabilities in Southside Virginia.

Calhoun recognized the lack of resources for children with autism in the area and made it her mission to create a space where children like Bailey and Logan can receive the care and attention they deserve without the need for extensive travel.

The Bailey Center operates entirely on donations, emphasizing the significance of community support in making this initiative a success. The center’s commitment to providing free services underscores the belief that every child, regardless of their abilities, deserves access to the resources that can help them thrive.

In addition to therapies and activities, The Bailey Center extends its reach into the community with initiatives like Buddy Ball—an inclusive sports league.

Virginia Center Offers Free Resources for Navigating Autism Diagnoses

This not only fosters a sense of community but also creates opportunities for individuals like 15-year-old Carter Early and aspiring chef Jacob Worley to form meaningful connections. “People think he’s different, but to me everybody’s different,” says Early about Bailey. “So I see Bailey as one of my best friends.”

The Bailey Center’s promise goes beyond the present, offering a range of activities from dance classes to culinary classes. For individuals like Jacob Worley, passionate about pursuing a career in culinary arts, the center provides an avenue to develop skills and pursue dreams. “Culinary classes and very different things to look forward to and keep on going forward,” expresses Worley.

Amidst all the services and programs offered, the most profound impact of The Bailey Center is the sense of hope it instills in families.

For parents like Hannah Rethman, whose son Logan has experienced a regression in his developmental milestones, the center represents the possibility of meaningful progress and a brighter future. “Him just making meaningful sounds is so big,” says Rethman, reflecting on the hope for her son’s development. “I hope he says, mama! I can’t wait. I’m so hopeful for the day I hear either Mama or Mom or just anything.”

The Bailey Center emerges as a beacon of hope, not just for families navigating the complexities of autism but for an entire community that is rallying behind inclusivity and support.

Related News:

As it continues to grow and evolve, this facility stands as a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives in making a lasting impact on the lives of those affected by autism in rural Virginia. To support The Bailey Center’s mission and learn more about the free community events they offer, visit

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours