We had the good fortune of connecting with Emilye Schmale and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Emilye, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?

I was a single mother working in marketing, focused on consumer product goods in the corporate world for almost 17 years, then I had a child with special needs. Boy did that change my view of what is important in this life! I saw families in the DFW area struggling with finding multi-disciplinary care in one location. I saw them struggling with finding ABA that was ethically provided with a focus on QUALITY of the services. I saw families have to give up homes and jobs to care for their special needs child just to get them from school, to therapy, to another therapy, to a doctor, etc in an endless loop! I struggled myself with finding a clinic for my son that could provide consistent, quality service. I remember sitting in a conference room working on a project and thinking to myself, there has GOT to be a way we can bring these services together and provide QUALITY treatment in a fun environment with providers that WANT to collaborate and support our kids! So I went to SCORE, a fantastic local organization in Fort Worth, and they provided me with mentors to help me begin creating a budget projection and write my business plan. I met with retired individuals who were so kind and generous enough to donate their time to help entrepreneurs like myself for months in cities all over DFW. They each had something unique to offer me to help create this business I had envisioned in my mind. Then I connected with the Assistant Director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Autism program. They have affiliate and consultation agreements with clinics all over the country. With their 30 years of experience, I knew they were the perfect fit to help me create Shine. Finally, I realized I could do this! I could actually make this dream a reality and it just all made sense. I began to create something we didn’t have here at that time and we began to help families come together under one roof to receive all the services their children desperately needed! A huge bonus to this model was that not only could I be there for my own son to be sure he got the help he needs, I could also make sure the QUALITY and standards were what every parent wants for their child. It is terrifying for a parent to leave a special needs child at a clinic.“What goes on behind those doors?” goes through every parent’s mind. I have seen over and over the comfort I can provide to parents when they know, I, a fellow mother and special needs mom, is there everyday and my son is right there next to theirs getting the best care possible. This was my dream and this is how Shine Behavioral LLC became a reality.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?

Please see my initial answer as much of this is covered. What I will add is that we were one of the very first clinics in DFW to bring together many services for our clients under one roof, ABA, Speech and OT, but we took it even further and brought in music therapy and adapted martial arts and now have a special needs gym within the Shine plaza. New Strength Adaptive Fitness offers adaptive weight training, gymnastics, yoga, and martial arts. The owner started with one client at Shine many years ago and developed a program just for our population, 1:1! This simply had not been done all at one location. Add in things like a sensory room we incorporated from day one, rock walls, and an outdoor playground and you have a clinic that children thrive in! We pride ourselves on being a place that our kiddos can show their true personality. They feel safe and loved and can be exactly who they are and that comes from a team of people who go ABOVE and beyond everyday to keep doing MORE! It is not about numbers or selling to a private equity group or capital group, it is about creating a destination for our population to come and feel accepted while learning the skills they need to be successful in their everyday environment!

This year we will be accepting clients over the age of 12, another thing that current clinics just don’t do. We will serve clients up to 18 and provide daily living skills with a full kitchen, laundry facility, and mini apartment. We will also conduct social skills groups and create an environment for clients transitioning into adolescence, to express themselves and connect with others just like them to share interests and create friendships. Our population does not have many extra curricular activities and that needs to change. Shine plans to be a place where they can come together and continue to grow!
Nothing is easy! None of this was easy. We continuously overcome our challenges together, as a team, and we figure out solutions together. We stay open-minded to growth and change at ALL times and that is one of the most important lessons I can share: Never think you know it all. Create a strong team and then depend on them, allow them to work with you and for you to do what is best to create an environment where all feel heard.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is a tough one as I would probably take them to the barn to see my horse…lol and that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. He is an off track rescue thoroughbred that brings me great joy when I can get away for a bit of me time! The Sanford house in Arlington is one of my favorite spots for an amazing meal and a great spa experience for out of town guests or even just for a weekend brunch and yoga class with friends.
Everyone always wants to see old town in Fort Wort for the true Texas experience so that’s definitely on the list as well!
Billy Bobs for the true country line dancing Texas experience and the Botanical Gardens in both FW and Dallas for a day outside!
For REAL Italian, Prespas in Arlington is not to be missed! Try their signature dishes and mingle with locals who know where to find great food!
Downtown Arlington is also undergoing a fantastic revitalization and has SO many wonderful restaurants to try and many fun activities to explore like indoor rock climbing, axe throwing, and board and brush projects to tackle. The water Gardens in FW are also unique and free and a great place to bring visitors. There is just so much to see and do in DFW!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are SO many! As I mentioned in the previous section SCORE in Fort Worth has an AMAZING group of generous souls that dedicate their time to supporting entrepreneurs. I could NOT have put my initial business plan together without their expertise and guidance.
Travis Haycook from the Cleveland Clinic sat at my dining room table beside myself and our fist BCBA, and now our Clinical Director, Evan Skelton, and helped write every policy and legal document to start a medical clinic. We did this day in and day out, long before we opened our doors, to have everything our parents and future employees would need to begin their journey with us at Shine!
Evan Skelton is a dedicated human being with the kindest heart as well as a BCBA with over 13 years of experience. She truly has a passion for children and families dealing with life on the spectrum and she has been by my side since I began this journey. Shine would NOT be where it is today without her!
Nancy Gray is also another amazing soul who started with us at Shine before we even opened our doors as our Lead Speech Pathologist. She came not knowing ABA but was open to learning and collaborating with BCBAs, and other providers as we grew and she really set the tone in our clinic for a collaborative environment across ALL providers. Not to mention, I’ve seen her work true magic with children who were completely non-verbal and change their lives to give them a voice!
I could go on and on as we still have employees, now managers, that have been with us from almost day one and we have employees that leave us and come back, sometimes even on breaks from other jobs! WE would not be what we are without each and every one of them!

Finally, our PARENTS! They pushed me to open a private elementary school for our population and now we are proudly able to say we offer a school for kiddos who are non-verbal but oh SO smart, as well as kiddos who struggle with sensory, social, or behavioral issues and just do not do well in the typical special education environments. We are able to customize how we teach each child and watching them learn academics, something even some parents did not think their child might ever achieve, is one of the proudest accomplishments that has come from starting Shine and Shine Academy that I can think of!

Website: www.shinebehavioral.com and www.shinebehavioral.academy

Facebook: Shine Behavioral Center and Shine Behavioral Academy

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