In recent years we have recognized a substantial gap in services for adolescents with autism, while simultaneously watching the rise of anxiety and depression among teens. Driven by our passion for people and autism, we decided to take action and engage in the work of equipping teenagers with the essential skills to live connected, healthy, and fulfilling lives. In 2023, we launched our teen group in Clive, which is a comprehensive, intentionally designed service that incorporates lessons from four distinct, evidence-based curricula to support teens in learning healthy social skills and safety skills. Our first cohort was a remarkable success! Six teens from the Des Moines area gathered twice a week to invest in learning skills related to navigating their social environments.

Their hard work paid off and we celebrated the milestones and the small steps they took along their journey.

We saw students identify shared interests with their peers and join sports teams and after-school clubs to intentionally develop lasting, healthy friendships.

We shared in one family's joy as they observed their teen become more psychologically flexible and actively participate in family outings.

We celebrated with a student who overcame a tough start by mastering healthy coping skills and proudly graduated from the teen group alongside his peers!

We rejoiced with a student who successfully cultivated new, healthy friendships of their own.

We celebrated with a student who developed meaningful skills that will support him in achieving his future career goals.

We are extremely proud of the work and the growth of this special group of teenagers. In addition, we honor a few of our incredible BCBAs who so excellently and thoughtfully provided this extremely meaningful service to families in our community. Jill Anderson, Kara Banker, Drew Foster, and Alex Regenold. Thank you for being wonderful examples of Balance Autism's values and mission and for pioneering this much-needed service.