Waterloo autism center closes - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo autism center closes

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An organization that caters to autistic children and their parents has closed its doors.

Champions of Autism shut down Friday at its center in Waterloo.

The center served close to about 250 families and is the only organization like it in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area.

Ryne Philp's 6th birthday is Monday but he's already got his present - a brand new bike.

His mom, Crystal, says she loves her son but his autism makes every day a challenge..

"You never know when you have an autistic child what you'll come across...what you'll be faced with," said Philp.

She's one of hundreds of parents wondering why the Champions of Autism center closed suddenly this week.

She says the center helped bring families of autistic children together - finding resources and offering support groups and learning situations.

The closure affects 240 families around the Cedar Valley who use the center's services but a note on the door said Friday would be their last day open. A man on the scene said people actually started moving things out on Thursday."

Retired dentist Ken Budke started the center.

He told KWWL in a phone call that funding dried up and the time was right to step away.

He says he's in talks with another organization to pick up some services.

Still, for Philp, the sudden shutdown has her searching for answers.

"There's a certain way it should've went about. You don't close a center and then notify people after the fact. To me, it should have been brought across, this is what we're dealing with. You don't have to go into details but this is what we're dealing with and we cannot continue. Not through an e-mail...not through the grapevine," said Philp.

Philp says she volunteered at a fundraiser two weeks ago and had no hint that there was a problem.

Budke says he's still committed to the families and there's no good time to close the doors.

He says he's working to help the center's lone employee catch on with the organization he hopes will continuing providing services to the families.

He would not tell us which organization that might be.

The champions of autism center opened a couple of years ago at Kimball and Ridgeway in Waterloo.

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