KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — There’s new help for people with autism and it’s all under one roof at Autism Breakthrough of Knoxville’s brand-new headquarters.

We recently showed you the exciting ribbon cutting. We wanted to go back and see firsthand what it offers.

Pace Johnson is 27 years old and a master of words. He shows flashes of brilliance in many ways yet is misunderstood by those who don’t live in his world.

“Pace is an incredible reader,” said his mother, Mary Donnet Johnson. “He doesn’t talk a lot, but he’s an incredible reader.”

Pace is one of several adults with autism benefiting from a favorite therapy. In this case, it’s a swing, which Pace said he liked, “a whole lot.”

It’s one of many rehabilitation tools and programs offered at the new home of Autism Breakthrough which just opened this fall on Liberty Street in Knoxville.

“The part that I was most wanting, ” said Executive Director Kendrise Colebrooke,” is now we have space for people we previously didn’t have the capacity to serve.”

The goal: to help people with autism live as independently as possible with things Pace is already experiencing:

  • how to make purchases at the store
  • fill out applications for jobs that match skills
  • do laundry
  • ride an elevator
  • get involved in recycling

It’s thanks to a supportive mother who said, “he doesn’t go anywhere alone. He doesn’t stay home alone.”

It’s also the ongoing result of all kinds of therapies that are now offered in the new space under one roof.

“It’s a gift to be able to come into an organization in one place and get occupational and speech therapy,” Johnson said.

Pace is encouraged to communicate in ways he’s most comfortable. He expresses himself a lot through art, applying attention and concentration as he sketches caricatures of new friends, including me.

For more information on Autism Breakthrough, visit