Autism disorders are big business these days, as private equity firms flock to the subsector. More than 40 deals targeting all manner of autism services have been announced since the beginning of 2014. Of those, 17 were direct investments by firms such as Frazier Healthcare Partners (August 2018) and Pharos Capital Group (November 2018) and 14 were follow-on deals.

The latest to join the parade is TA Associates, which just announced its acquisition of Behavioral Health Works (BHW) in Anaheim, California. Like many other autism services providers, BHW specializes in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy and ancillary services for children with autism spectrum disorder and related disorders. It provides care in 11 states, serving approximately 1,800 clients.

TA Associates has been active in all manner of healthcare sectors, with a strong bent toward the technology side: Healthcare IT, Life Science Tools, Medical Technology and Pharma/Pharma Services.

One successful exit came in October 2017, when it sold eviCore Healthcare, a medical cost management company, to Express Scripts (NYSE: ESRX) for $3.6 billion. Back in Novemer 2010, it made a minority investment in the company, then called MedSolutions, alongside previous investors MedCare and Ridgemont Equity Partners. Four years later, MedSolutions was acquired by General Atlantic’s portfolio company, CareCore National LLC, and TA Associates stayed on for the ride.

All that to say, when TA Associates begins building a platform, it doesn’t exit as quickly as some others do. Case in point: LLR Partners recapitalized LEARN Behavioral in May 2016.

LEARN is a network of providers serving children with autism and other special needs, using ABA.

With LLR’s backing, the company announced four follow-on acquisitions since August 2017. The most recent was in October 2018 for Total Spectrum, an ABA-therapy provider with operations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Near the end of 2018, word got around that LEARN was being prepped for a sales process. We’ll let you know when that happens.