Breakthrough Corporation is a 501c3 non-profit organization, located in Knoxville that supports primarily adults with autism and other intellectual or developmental disabilities. Breakthrough is licensed to provide a full continuum of services through TennCare, and is in-network for managed care organizations Blue Cross Blue Shield, Amerigroup, and United Healthcare.

Other sources of funding for our programs include the State of Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD), State of Tennessee Vocational Rehabilitation, through grant funds, and private-pay participants.


Our R&R program is a structured recreation program directed by a Recreational Therapist. The program focuses on recreational therapy goals and allows the participant to experience their community and surrounding areas by giving them the opportunity for community recreation that may not be readily available otherwise. Some activities include: Movie outings, local festivals, hikes and exploring nature trails, and visiting local tourist attractions. R&R also provides opportunities to work on social skills and community integration.


Our community services program provides a structured program of vocational, social, and recreational activities. The community services program creates a meaningful day by providing integrated opportunities throughout the greater Knoxville community.


Our South Knoxville neighborhood contains seven fully accessible homes, a larger duplex housing unit, and efficiency apartments for adults with Autism. Breakthrough also services multiple homes in the greater Knoxville area. These homes are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the entire year and serve up to three persons per home.

We offer employment placement, resume writing workshops, one-on-one vocational coaching, employment classes, and job coaching. We sincerely believe that every single person who desires an opportunity for competitive wage employment should be given a chance to achieve their goals.

Transitioning from high school to the real world is hard for anyone but can seem especially daunting for students with disabilities and their families. Working within the schools and with the state, we provide instruction in self-advocacy, workplace skills, applying to jobs and colleges, and much more! Ask your teacher about Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) at your school.

In addition, this June and July, we’re hosting a College and Career Transition Academy. If you’re interested in learning more, email Scot Bellavia at


Project SEARCH at the University of Tennessee Medical Center is a licensed replication of a nationally recognized program developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to provide adults with developmental disabilities with education and experiences to learn skills needed for successful employment. Adults accepted into Project SEARCH participate in nine month internships, five days per week, at UTMC. Each day participants receive at least one hour of classroom instruction on vocational, social, and independent living skills and approximately four hours of training as an intern at a worksite in the hospital.

2023 Project SEARCH Application


Our Recreational Therapist, whom is a Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist (CTRS), creates goal driven programming with measurable objectives that assist the participants in attaining their personal best. The CTRS addresses the participant’s physical, social, emotional needs through a variety of Goal-oriented activities such as: book club, yoga & exercise programs, special olympics, gardening club, and more.  Given appropriate planning and implementing, the participant can embrace the opportunity to experience Recreational Therapy and it’s benefits.


Bridge to Employment in Service and Tourism (B.E.S.T.) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a licensed model for programming designed to provide job exploration, pre-employment training, job skills development, mentorship and placement in service, hospitality and tourism industries for adults with disabilities and barriers to employment. Sessions occur 3 times a year. Interns accepted into B.E.S.T. participate in 16 week internship, five days a week at ORNL. Each day interns receive at least 2 hours of learning lab instruction on vocational, social, and independent living skills and 5 hours of work based learning as an intern at a site at the laboratory or other community partner.

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Independent Living is for individuals who can function in the everyday circumstances of life with just the minimum of supports. Staffing is provided for a maximum of two hours a day initially and lessoned as the needs of the individual are assessed. Persons in this program should have high level skills in areas of living such as medication administration, cooking, cleaning, and accessing community services. Individuals who are receiving Independent Living services will have 24/7 access to staff in case of emergencies.


The Asperger’s support group meets weekly alternating support and social group. Members discuss challenges, topics of interest, and have a staffed moderator to provide community resources for things that may come up.

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Community Liaison is a service offered for those who are having difficulty navigating systems of care, such as transportation services, insurance, waiver applications, locating services and community access. Persons who need this service will be assisted to get needed supports and taught how to go about the process so that as their skills grow they may independently do so. Community Liaison services are included with some Breakthrough services, however, can be utilized separately as needed for those participants in programs that do not include community liaison services (Independent Living, Asperger’s Support Group, Supported Employment, Project SEARCH).

Interested in receiving services from Autism Breakthrough?
Download an application for services by clicking the button below.

Download Application

Contact Community Services administrator for more information at