Spartanburg Herald Journal Features Project HOPE

As ratio of children diagnosed with autism climbs, one Spartanburg agency hopes to expand services

Twenty-five years ago, Lisa Lane knew little about autism, and less about how it would impact her own life.

Today, the organization she co-founded and directs with Susan Sachs — the Project HOPE Foundation — provides a lifeline for Upstate families searching for answers in the wake of an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. Launched as a specialized effort in 1997 as Lane and Sachs were seeking therapy for their young children, Project HOPE Foundation has grown into a multi-county clinic serving families with loved ones who have autism across a continuum of services and therapies from birth through early adulthood.

They’ve been on the move in recent years, adding a Spartanburg location at 200 Elford Court just a year ago to help Hub City residents better access their services. And now the group plans to unveil a new location in Landrum later this year.

Project HOPE Foundation spokeswoman Amanda Harley said the group expects to move most of its Hope Academy classrooms to one central location in Landrum. While a specific location has yet to be announced, Harley said the move will allow the foundation to consolidate its school operations and free up space in some of its existing buildings for other programs.

For Lane, it’s just the latest step in a journey that began in 1996 when her then-18-month-old son Colby began exhibiting symptoms that left her searching for answers. Following her intuition, she attended an Upstate autism conference at Converse College. Just 20 minutes spent listening to the stories of other families left her convinced.