Imagine being unable to tell your mom you love her. You want to, of course, but you don’t have the communication skills to do so. For many children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), this is their reality.

Melinda Moore, ’99, works to help those with ASD conquer these challenges and so many others.

Early in her career, the Richmond-based Moore recognized the prevailing need for a treatment plan focused on intensive therapy. “Often, plans offer only a few hours per week of outpatient therapy, but so many cases require more — up to 20 hours per week of intensive intervention,” said Moore, who earned a doctorate in counseling psychology from VCU.

Our vision has come true.

Nine years ago, Moore and her husband, Cedric Moore Jr., opened Spectrum Transformation Group, the first licensed applied behavior analysis provider in Virginia. This intensive treatment is highly customizable and helps those with ASD learn skills, improve communication, and understand the emotions of those around them.

The Moores’ business quickly grew to the point that Spectrum had a yearslong waitlist for treatment. In March, they celebrated an important milestone: opening Spectrum’s first free-standing facility, allowing them to serve a much larger population.

“Our vision has come true,” she said. “I walk into our new sensory playroom, complete with ball pits and play igloos for the kids, and I can’t help but think, ‘This is exactly what we envisioned.’”

Moore looks forward to helping more of her clients achieve life-changing breakthroughs –– whether it’s a young adult establishing independence with her first solo apartment or a child finally verbalizing to his mother that he loves her.

“When we can help kids bond with their parents, and their parents can bond back in a way that both understand — that’s huge,” Moore said. “That’s the best feeling in the world.”