Our Cause

Our Philosophy & Methods


Self-Direction is not a service in itself. It is an option for implementation of services for people who wish to make their own decisions about the services they want, schedules, selection of staff, and perhaps even control over their own financial budget for services. Abilities First offers Self-Direction as an option for people to take greater control of decisions that affect them and their services.


If Self-Direction is a vehicle for taking more control over personal decisions, then Self-Advocacy is the set of tools one must have to take that control. Self-Advocacy means learning to express thoughts, concerns, and opinions in order to get your needs met. Abilities First promotes Self-Advocacy at all levels. We also offer Self-Advocacy training and support groups regularly.

Autism Specialization

Abilities First provides specialized services to children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Our team of experienced therapists and clinicians draw upon evidence-based approaches including positive behavior support, applied behavior analysis, social skills training, and pragmatic language therapies.

Elements of some or all of these methods are incorporated into the person-centered planning process to design the best possible comprehensive plan for people with Autism. These plans allow people with Autism to thrive at all levels including preschool, school, adult programs, and adult living.


Abilities First provides many direct services to children and adults. However, that is only one part of our mission. Another important part of our mission is to help shape the world and our communities to be a more welcoming and functional place for people with and without special needs.

In order to pursue this part of our mission, we often advocate for inclusion and acceptance. We work to engage the general public to raise knowledge and awareness about disability issues, and we work with our local, state and federal governments to pave the way for future progress.

Integration & Inclusion

Person-Centered Planning

Some businesses offer cookie-cutter products and only those. Other businesses may offer products that are customized to individual needs or desires. Person-Centered Planning means customizing a support plan around what individual people want and need – not offering only what might be available.

At Abilities First, we begin the planning process by identifying what people need and want and design an individualized support plan around those needs and wants. The results are creative, dynamic, personalized plans designed to enrich life.

Employment First

Employment First is a philosophy that makes work the primary goal for youth despite developmental challenges that may exist. Because employment is the gateway to true independence in adulthood, we help people explore those options first before considering other adult program options.

Community Partnership

If Abilities First is to offer integration and inclusion opportunities, we must have thriving partnerships with businesses, government, and other non-profit organizations in our communities. It is only through these partnerships that we are able to break down the barriers that have historically separated people with and without disabilities.

Our Power Campaign

Please join our Power Campaign by signing the Pledge to Power! The Pledge is a commitment that you can make as an individual, an organization or a business. When you sign the Pledge you agree to keep in mind the interests and needs of people with disabilities.

You also agree to support to do your part of help people with disabilities attain independence, self-determination, integration and acceptance by others. Please join us in celebrating our vision that all people are recognized and valued for their Abilities First.

If you would like to go beyond the Pledge, we will provide presentation, training or other kinds of guidance on how to implement inclusion and accessibility in the workplace, place of business, or other part of your community.