IBJNews

2014 Health Care Heroes: Carl T. Sundberg, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Tom Harton
March 6, 2014
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Health Care HeroesFinalist - Non-physician

Carl T. Sundberg, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Chief Clinician & President, Behavior Analysis Center for Autism

 Carl Sundberg got his start helping autistic children communicate and assimilate before most people had ever heard of autism.

Sundberg was a high school kid in Michigan and his older brother was studying behavioral analysis at Western Michigan University. Carl started reading one of his brother’s textbooks and was hooked. While he was following in his brother’s footsteps—studying at Western Michigan and learning how to help impaired children communicate—autism was racing toward the mainstream.

The opening line of a paper Sundberg wrote in the late 1980s was, “Autism affects one in 10,000 children.” Now, he said, the number is one in 88 children.

The reason for the rise in the neurological disorder, which creates a communications and learning barrier for those who have it, is hard to pin down. Explanations vary. Surely part of the rise has to do with more awareness, Sundberg said, but environmental factors such as diet and the quality of the water supply are also thought to contribute.

Whatever the reason, Sundberg has devoted his career to helping those who have the disorder, and he’s become a hero to many parents who simply want their child to be able to learn and function in society.

In 2009, Sundberg and his wife, Devon, started the Behavior Analysis Center for Autism, which now has two locations in Fishers, one in Zionsville and one in Elkhart. For about a decade before he started BACA, Sundberg was consulting for schools and doing home programs that involved visiting a family once a month.

“I would come in and talk to a parent and try to impress upon them the difficulty of the hard work and the teaching that is required,” he said. Sundberg always felt bad leaving and telling his clients he’d see them in a month, then he’d be disappointed when he returned and discovered a child hadn’t made as much progress as he’d hoped.

hch_sundberg.jpg Carl T. Sundberg (IBJ Photo/Eric Learned)

“That’s when I realized this wasn’t enough,” he said. And it’s when he started thinking about starting the centers.

The centers employ about 130 therapists who work full time with a patient population of about 110. BACA helps kids of all ages, but the preschool years are ideal, because BACA’s therapists can help children catch up with their peers and start their school careers on an even keel.

“If we catch you really early, we’re trying to get you caught up so you can go to school,” Sundberg said. Staff members are so devoted to the cause that they bring in their own children to participate in a class that mixes autistic and non-autistic 3- to 5-year-olds.

“Our family quality of life has improved significantly,” wrote one mother about her son’s experience with BACA. “My husband and I started to feel ‘normal’ when we went out as a family to restaurants, shops, playgrounds, the library, the pool, etc.,” noting that her son, who is now 14, gained about two years of development in 2-1/2 years by working with Sundberg and his staff.

Another couple with an autistic son wrote: “Dr. Sundberg and his staff at the BACA are experts at helping these children gain the skills they need to learn because of his emphasis on training, continuing education and dedication to seeing individuals with autism live the best and most independent lives possible.”•

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I am so impressed that the smoking ban FAILED in Kokomo! I might just move to your Awesome city!

  2. way to much breweries being built in indianapolis. its going to be saturated market, if not already. when is enough, enough??

  3. This house is a reminder of Hamilton County history. Its position near the interstate is significant to remember what Hamilton County was before the SUPERBROKERs, Navients, commercial parks, sprawling vinyl villages, and acres of concrete retail showed up. What's truly Wasteful is not reusing a structure that could still be useful. History isn't confined to parks and books.

  4. To compare Connor Prairie or the Zoo to a random old house is a big ridiculous. If it were any where near the level of significance there wouldn't be a major funding gap. Put a big billboard on I-69 funded by the tourism board for people to come visit this old house, and I doubt there would be any takers, since other than age there is no significance whatsoever. Clearly the tax payers of Fishers don't have a significant interest in this project, so PLEASE DON'T USE OUR VALUABLE MONEY. Government money is finite and needs to be utilized for the most efficient and productive purposes. This is far from that.

  5. I only tried it 2x and didn't think much of it both times. With the new apts plus a couple other of new developments on Guilford, I am surprised it didn't get more business. Plus you have a couple of subdivisions across the street from it. I hope Upland can keep it going. Good beer and food plus a neat environment and outdoor seating.

ADVERTISEMENT