I have supported persons with ASDs my entire career. I began my career teaching children with autism spectrum disorders at the Edmonton School for Autistic Children, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Thereafter, although I am Canadian, I went abroad to New Zealand where I obtained my Masters degree from the University of Auckland, and subsequently I secured my PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. My research has all focused on communication in persons with ASDs; my Master’s thesis examined question-asking, when the answer was known, and my Doctoral dissertation investigated the relation between theory of mind and communication skills.
Throughout this extensive career in ASDs, I have established myself as a fixture at ASHA, presenting virtually annually, for the last 20 years, to this national meeting of speech language pathologists. I have also been fortunate to be the invited speaker to many of the state level speech hearing association meetings as well.
I have also established myself as a consultant and personnel preparer on issues pertaining to challenging behaviors. This is no accident, nor, is it terribly divergent from my focus on communication, insofar as unexpected behaviors very often are the result of a less than conventional, or effective communication system. Persons without conventional or effective expressive and receptive communication systems will, often, engage in unexpected behaviors. Know too that I promote the philosophy that children will do well if they can, not children will do well if they want to, so strategies that I recommend will typically assess for skill deficits and teach replacement behaviors.
I am also a founding board member of Camp AweSum, a camp for youth and their families who experience ASD. Camp has allowed me to witness family dynamics, train parents and support personnel in the use of visuals, and a kinder, gentler philosophy as well as embrace individuals with ASDs so they know they are valued and loved.
You will find that I am committed to supporting people in the most respectful way possible with compassion for the individual, their family and their educators.