A new center to help children with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental delays has opened in South Tucson.

Hope Group’s new center, at 1100 E. Ajo Way, Suite 201, is the Phoenix-based company’s first in Southern Arizona. Services children can receive at home or at the center include behavioral therapy, help with school readiness and peer interactions through an approach called applied behavioral analysis.

Parents who attend can learn ways to set achievable goals as well as strategies to help their children at home and at school. There will also be workshops and training sessions.

Hope Group has been providing in-home services in Tucson for about 10 years, said Lori Cairns, who founded the company in 1997. About 40 children in the Tucson area are getting services and Cairns said she hopes the center will mean more can access help.

“Travel time can make it difficult for our employees serving kids in Tucson,” she said. “It seemed so much easier for some parents to bring their children to us.”

There’s no way to gauge the exact number of children in Tucson diagnosed with autism or a related disorder. According to the latest data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 66, or 1.5 percent of 8-year-old children in Arizona, are identified as having autism spectrum disorder or ASD.

As of last August, the Tucson Unified School District had 490 children with autism enrolled for the school year.

Contact reporter Patty Machelor at pmachelor@tucson.com or 806-7754. On Twitter: @pattymachstar

Reporter

Patty covers issues pertaining to children and families as well as people living with disabilities. She previously reported on court cases, with an emphasis on juvenile court. She has worked for the Arizona Daily Star since 2001.