The Stables Autism Program offers an ideal environment for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to reconnect to nature, the outdoors, and animals while they experience healthy social engagement.

Dr. Julie Eberwein, Associate CEO and Clinical Administrator shares, “The treatment process in our program helps individuals explore vulnerabilities that interfere with self-awareness, acceptance, and growth, ultimately creating the opportunity to develop life strategies and inner-strength necessary for sustained success.”

Located on 25-acres in the Smoky Mountains, the program operates as a retreat-like setting that offers multi-sensory elements and experiences. Outdoor experiences include Cades Cove, Wears Valley Ranch, Little Pigeon River, and the Smoky Mountain National Park that gives individuals the opportunity to engage in hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing, and horseback riding.

Who benefits from our Autism program?

At The Stables Autism Program, we provide a comprehensive assessment process. For admission, we require that individuals have a prior diagnosis of ASD with a recent decline in real-world social functioning, work, school, social interactions with others, or self-care. Individuals also must be able to participate in the program and accomplish the program objectives.

“Our program focuses on the individual and their level of functionality and the potential for them to improve their vocational and employment skills and then apply those to the community. Therefore, admission depends on the specific needs of the individual and their family,” shares Dr. Eberwein.

The Stables is an Autism specific facility within the Pasadena Villa Psychiatric Treatment Network. As with care across the Pasadena Villa Psychiatric Treatment Network, the treatment team will work one-on-one with the individual and their family to customize a care plan with set goals and determine an appropriate transition date to The Stables Autism Program.

How is our Autism program different?

Dr. Eberwein states, “Pasadena Villa has a 20-year history of effectively treating clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and this program is an extension of that treatment. The Stables Autism Program is all about self-sufficiency, autonomy, enhanced relationships, and communication as we identify strengths and create new opportunities for growth. This program fills the treatment gap as it relates to autism treatment, providing that link to those with autism to live independently in the community. “

We use the natural environment of the Smoky Mountains to engage our clients in evidence-based strategies and activities that improve their social functioning. The Pasadena Villa Social Integration Model is well-tested and draws from Social Learning Theory, Social Skills Training, and field-tested models for eldercare. Adapting this model as part of our program targeting those with AS is a proven differentiating factor.

Additionally, each member of our staff at the program has extensive experience working with individuals with ASD. The assessment, diagnosis, and stabilization all happen at The Stables Autism Program as part of the treatment process at Smoky Mountain Lodge. Unlike some programs, we offer a therapeutic foundation built on a solution-focused and family systems model. Our team members develop treatment plans utilizing evidence-based therapeutic strategies involving:

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
Experiential Therapy
Social integration
Motivational Interviewing
Collaborative Problem Solving
Mindfulness Activities

“Our staff uses these strategies to help clients engage them with one another, problem-solve, and communicate. These activities make a difference in our vision of the program. With all the expertise we bring to the table, including our understanding of research, we can fill the treatment gap in a meaningful and innovative way,” says Dr. Eberwein.

The Stables Autism Program is also different in the continued support we provide to our clients and their families. Family work is an integral part of a client’s success, so for this reason, we provide opportunities for education and support. Therapists arrange family sessions twice monthly for family members to learn more about their loved one’s progress and care. Additionally, families can access resources and support through monthly training and education opportunities, an annual family retreat, and networking with the National Autism Center. We also continue to be a resource beyond our client’s episode of care, and our alumni network is also available as an additional source of support.

If you or a loved one is considering autism care at The Stables Autism Program, please reach out to one of our admission specialists. We are standing by and eager to help.