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Building Blocks Center for Children with Autism

Building Blocks Center for Children with Autism is an accredited private school for children age 2 to 14 with a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Building Blocks was established in 2004 as a division of the Center for Pediatric Therapies with one location in Danville, Virginia. We now operate two locations with expert staff serving Southern Virginia and Central Virginia. Our school is licensed by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and accredited by the Virginia Association of Independent Special Education Facilities (VAISEF).


Our curriculum is uniquely designed based on each child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  Building Blocks recognizes Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as the research-based method for successful treatment of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Intensive ABA instruction significantly increases the chances for gains in intellectual and social development.

In addition to ABA, we utilize a variety of teaching modalities, including but not limited to:

  • Verbal Behavior (VB)
  • Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
  • Natural Environment Teaching/Play Therapy
  • Social Skills Group/Social Stories
    Sensory Integration

Educational Objectives

The Building Blocks school prioritizes the following educational objectives:

  • to teach students how to correctly discriminate among different stimuli
  • to teach students how to follow expressed requests
  • to assist in the development of expressive language schools
  • to move students toward meaningful social interaction
  • to facilitate continued educational experiences in other environments


Educating children with Autism Spectrum Disorders requires qualified and highly trained individuals working together with families.

Extended School Year (ESY) Summer Program

The Extended School Year (ESY) Program is open to children age 2 to 14 with a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder and an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Children do not have to be admitted to our private day school in order to be eligible for the ESY summer program. The summer program typically runs from mid-June through early August. Summer program offerings include individual sessions, group sessions, and social skills training. 

Admissions Requirements and Procedures

Building Blocks supports equal opportunity and has open enrollment to children who have autism regardless of race, creed, gender or ethnicity.  Due to the intensive individualized nature of programs, enrollment is designed for children with a primary diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Children enrolled in Building Blocks must be between the ages of 2 to 14 years of age.  Families of children enrolled in Building Blocks must complete a Parent Agreement Form acknowledging commitment to the belief system employed by Building Blocks and must demonstrate strong potential for follow-through and carryover with home programs.  A copy of each child’s most recent evaluation, current IEP, and any other pertinent medical information confirming the diagnosis is required for admission.  Confirmation of a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder is maintained as part of each student’s records.

If your child is currently enrolled in public school, the first point of contact is the school district’s LEA. LEAs will determine if Building Blocks is an appropriate private day placement option. Applications for admission to Building Blocks are available from the Directors and are reviewed to make final admission decisions. If Building Blocks has reached full capacity or is presented with a student in which staff do not have the expertise to serve, we will make alternate recommendations or refer that family back to their LEA. An admission letter will be sent to the family and LEA, when appropriate, during the admission process to inform them of the child’s acceptance into the program.

Southern Virginia Team

Ilaria Cotten, BA, MBA-HRM
Director of Education
Maria Cantner
General Education Teacher
Samantha Bronk
Lead Technician of Creative Arts
Ebony Coleman
Programming and Training Specialist
Rachael C. Huggins
Behavior Analyst
Reva Padu
Office/Project Manager
Shannon Phelps
Administrative Assistant
Tina Stone
Lead Technician of Instructional Support
Hunter Williard
Special Education Teacher

Central Virginia Team

Malorie Pittman
Special Education Teacher
MIa Danko
Office Assistant
Dailee Helfrich
Autism Specialist

Contact Information

Building Blocks of Southern Virginia

175 Deer Run Road
Danville, VA 24540
Phone: (434) 797-5531
Fax: (434 797-5529

Building Blocks of Central Virginia

305 Gristmill Drive
Lynchburg, VA 24551
Phone: (434) 385-1089
Fax: (434) 385-5049

Contact Email: Whitney Shields: