Childhood education specialist opens school to help preschoolers on the autism spectrum thrive

After a long career of working in special education and behavior analysis, Jacklynn Bosley saw a need to provide a safe, comprehensive learning environment for young children who are on the autism spectrum or have other learning disabilities.


So, last year Bosley left her career in special education and autism to design her own program. In June, she opened Thrive Early Learning Center, 4670 Richmond Road in Warrensville Heights, to provide children ages 18 months to six years a preschool education that focuses on the clinical needs of the student while also focusing on joy, laughter, and inspiration.


“After practicing in the field of education and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in both private and public sectors of education for the past 20 years, I knew it was time to combine my love for early childhood learning and ABA to solely focus on early intervention practices for children on the spectrum,” says Bosley of her decision to open Thrive.


“Professionally, I knew that my combined experiences of educational instruction and consultation, as well as the personal opportunities to form lasting relationships with families had brought me to the point of being ready to step out on my own to serve this much needed population,” Bosley continues.


Bosley says that while there are a limited number of day school programs that offer early intervention programs for autism, Thrive is the only program in the region designed specifically for preschool-aged children.


“There is a need for preschool or early intervention programs that are specific to kids with autism or an early diagnosis of having a disability,” Bosley continues. “Research shows that the earlier we intervene, the better the results are.”


While the ABA model is not novel, the way Bosley implements the research-based approach is.


“Thrive has worked very hard to design a learning curriculum and environment that combines the trusted science of ABA with the play-based feeling of a typical preschool classroom,” Bosley explains. “All of our learning activities are done through intentional play that has been selected to address specific areas of deficit that our students may have.”


Thrive Early Learning Center in Warrensville Heights is currently enrolling students from 18 months to 6 years old in a variety of programs.She says many parents with kids on the autism spectrum are faced with the choice of Individual Education Plans (IEPs) through the public school districts or private programs that can run upwards of $80,000 per year. Thrive costs less than $30,000, and students are eligible for the $27,000 Ohio Autism Scholarship (open to any Ohio student who has been certified by a school district as autistic and has an IEP), which further reduces the cost.


The tuition covers 60 minutes of individual weekly speech therapy, 60 minutes of individual weekly occupational therapy, and 30 minutes of weekly direct behavior analytic (BCBA) services.


Thrive provides a one-to-one teacher to student ratio with a staff of eight teachers who are trained in research-based intervention methodologies that target reducing interfering behavior, increasing socialization, and developing positive replacement behaviors. At the same time, students are taught the necessary academic and functional skills to best prepare them for their future education.


Students attend either morning or afternoon three-hour sessions, Monday through Thursday. Individualized one-hour speech and occupational therapy sessions are held two days a week.


Bosley was supposed to open Thrive in April but was delayed due to COVID-19. Bosley says it was an especially rough period for her students. “Every one of my families said, ‘my child cannot participate in virtual learning.’”


Bosley says the June 1 opening brought a sigh of relief. “Getting back to in-person therapy has been such a game-changer. They feel so good to get some sense of normalcy back.”

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.