Our Mission.


Our mission is for OCA to empower individuals with autism or special needs, and their families, to fully engage and thrive in the community. We live this mission everyday through our core values:



We will support, inspire and nurture the diversity of our families, colleagues and community to provide quality Participant care.


We provide services and interactions with respect and dignity, while focusing on the individual's ability, not their disability.


We will utilize a multi-disciplinary approach and emerging technology to individualize programming and to maximize ability.


We will do all that we do with passion. Everything from the way we train our staff, to the programs we run, to the facilities we use - our passion is to portray excellence.

We are proud to announce that OCA has received Behavioral Health Center of Excellence (BHCOE) Preliminary Accreditation! Earning this accreditation for OCA has been a major milestone for our team. We’re looking forward to providing continuous, evidence-based care to our families and growing as a company.

BHCOE Accreditation and BHCOE Preliminary Accreditation are the only applied behavioral analysis (ABA)-specific accreditations. Acting as a third-party, the organization systematically measures and reports on existing quality criteria in the behavior analysis community using standardized methods and practices, and accredits only those service agencies that meet these standards.

For more info, visit www.bhcoe.org.

Our Story.

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Thirteen years ago, Silvia Haas and Margaret Newman Thornton gathered on a park bench with a group of women they call the ‘founding sisters’. Their goal was to find a way to meet the needs of families with children of special needs. That first meeting took place with 18 other parents to talk about not only their children’s current needs, but to envision a future where their children could have a place to ‘work, live, and play’. That first meeting launched OCA, which stands for Opportunity, Community, Ability.

The mission to enable individuals and families with autism or other disabilities the opportunity to maximize their abilities is anchored by the goal that each person can and should contribute in their community. “We started with summer camps, then added after-school recreational care,” said Thornton, COO. Haas, now CEO of the thriving organization, keeps the focus on ability. “Each year we add programs because we respond to the needs of our participants,” said Haas. For instance, when participants started aging out of programs, the team added Adult Vocational Training.

Along the way they developed strong partnerships, like with Central Florida Dreamplex, a therapeutic provider with whom they share a building. Having expanded facilities is a game-changer for them and the families they serve. They’ve been able to increase programming by seventy-five percent. Haas coaches the OCA Eagles, their Special Olympics soccer team, who have been invited to the USA games four times, winning gold in 2018. In 2015, Haas was runner-up for Central Floridian of the Year and in 2021 won OCA second place in The Victory Cup Initiative. Thornton, a licensed mental health counselor and Board Certified Behavior Analyst, focuses on developing the programs needed to support families with a foundation of evidence-based practices and scientifically proven success. Her passion for Early Intervention helped expand their programs to serve ages birth through adults.

The future is their focus now. Their ultimate goal is going beyond day programs to create a place for participants to live where they can contribute their abilities and impact the community.

  • OCA is absolutely amazing! From the staff to the programs, they are the best! Your child will feel welcome and enjoy every moment they spend there!
    Mary Lovewell
  • OCA is absolutely amazing! From the staff to the programs, they are the best! Your child will feel welcome and enjoy every moment they spend there!
    Mary Lovewell
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