The opening in January 2016 of the Therapeutic Learning Centre (TLC) at 895 Erie Street East in Windsor is an uplifting story from two evolutionary perspectives.
For the often embattled Via Italia, it is another step towards diversification with the addition of Therapeutic Learning Centre, a business other than a restaurant or café. TLC, which provides autism and educational services in the old Motor City Community Credit Union building, is of similar genre to Dolce Vita Retirement Living, 854 Erie Street East, converted a few years ago from a fine dining establishment.
The identification of autism and government funding of treatment for it, known as Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI), is also evolving, with the emergence of privately owned and operated centres like TLC. While there are over 300 private centres in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and several in London, TLC is the first in Windsor and Essex County.
It is owned and operated by married couples Courtney and Michael Vonella and Rachel and Ben Purcell. They transplanted from Toronto after careful planning that ultimately involved occupancy in the vacant building next to the master tailor shop owned by Mike Vonella Sr., who is tickled pink to be reunited with his son.
Courtney is a Board Certified Behavioural Analyst with a Master of Science from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. Her high-order skill is designing specific programming for individual autism disorders. Rachel is an Ontario certified teacher with many years of classroom experience, and a practicing IBI therapist.
The friends met at the University of Windsor and moved to Toronto together to attend George Brown College’s autism and behavioural science program. Now both are starting young families back in Windsor. Rachel has an infant son and Courtney is expecting her first child this summer.
Vonella Jr. is a national Sales Manager for Umbro soccer products and works remotely out of an office at 895 Erie Street East, while assisting in the day-to-day management of the TLC, where one-on-one therapy by IBI instructors is conducted under the supervision of Courtney and Rachel. Co-op students from the autism and behavioural science program at St. Clair College are also utilized.