Roderick Batson greets us at the door with a warm smile. He is co-owner of Essential Speech & ABA Therapy, where he and his team focus on the needs of children on the Autism spectrum. The newly opened facility, located northwest of Downtown Houston, welcomes parents and their children with disabilities with an affirming sign that reads “Create Read Play Learn.” Services include occupational therapy, speech therapy, and behavioral therapy for kids 18 months to 6 years of age.
Baston, who is also the founder of Howdy’s Homemade Ice Cream, where he employs people with disabilities, was recently one of 35 men honored at the 2023 First Class Men of Houston Dinner created and hosted by La’Torria Lemon, the CEO of Lemon-LimeLight Media, an award-winning PR, Event Activation, and Branding Consultant Firm. The inaugural event: “celebrated men of Houston who are leading in their careers, accomplishing goals, and serving the community. Lemon shared her reason for honoring the men, including Baston. “A few years ago, I was thinking about how many amazing men I know and/or admire. I hadn’t seen an event that honored just men for their accomplishments and achievements, so I wanted to highlight their efforts and let them know I appreciate them, says Lemon, who was raised by a single father.
Even with Batson’s recognition in the community, the entrepreneur feels that he’s doing the work he should. When asked if he felt any pressure as a “trusted voice for the disability community.” Baston says, “There’s no pressure because my motives are pure. A lot of people do things for others because it’s for clout, so that they get recognition. For me, there is no pressure because I do it out of the kindness and genuineness of my heart.”
A personal story of Batson and one that connects him to his work is a disabled cousin who passed away right before the pandemic.
“I feel like I lost my cousin, but I gained so many more because I work with so many individuals with special needs now,” shares Batson. He says his work with the disability community is a reminder of how “amazing my cousin was and what he meant in my life.” Batson looks to spread his cousin’s same energy with the people he works with day to day. “He’s my inspiration. He’s the reason I’m able to do all of this. It’s a beautiful thing,” says Batson.
“With leading organizations for the disability community like the HollyRod Foundation founded by actress Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, former NFL player Rodney Peete, we asked if Batson drew inspiration from their work to which he responded, “Just seeing anyone think outside the box and do for others and be a voice for the voiceless, is inspiring. That’s what I always wanted to do, and now that I am doing it, I see so many others doing it also. And I wish we would highlight them (those serving the disability community) more, but a lot of times, they don’t get the accolades or the recognition. Anybody using their platform to help others is a great thing.”
With such a fulfilled mission to help others, one must ask Batson how he rest and refuel his energy. “People say that I give back so much to my community, but they really give back to me. I get refueled being around good people. Times when my other companies are stressful, I sit at my ice cream shop. As you know, we feed off of energy, and my worker’s energy is always so pure, and that is how I refuel mine. People say the best entrepreneur is those who have people around them. I credit my disability community (employees) as the team behind me. They inspire me every time I see them and for me to push harder and not complain about what I’m going through because they literally live with disabilities that the world has used to write them off, and they still show up every day, so that is my motivation.”
For now, you can find Batson and his business partner ensuring that Essential Speech & ABA Therapy is there to serve the community as well as Batson’s Howdy’s Homemade Ice Cream, where no matter what— the voice for the disability community is in good hands.
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Photo: Roderick Batson inside the Essential Speech & ABA Therapy facility, Cypress, TX.