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The Westview School Blog

In the Words of a Mother

May 05, 2022
By Catherine Winship

As we pause to celebrate our Westview moms and recognize all mothers on this weekend’s national holiday, we are thankful to one of our own, Catherine Winship, mom to Upper Elementary student, Joe, who in her own words, offers an honest and reflective post on motherhood and how profoundly it teaches, grows and changes us all – both child and mother.

The day is approaching when the world reminds us that it’s time to stop and recognize those that rarely stop at all, those whose tasks are often carried out under the radar where recognition doesn’t reside. Regardless of how many children call us “Mom,” the title is great. Mother’s Day is a day that invites us to pause and reflect on what “Mom” really means, and how it manifests in that one person in our lives. Love, faithfulness, and patience dominate the words of greeting cards on this day, and rightly so! But what the greeting cards don’t often address are the ones that call us mom. Our children give us this title, and in doing so take us on a journey into the depths of our own souls. What we discover there may never have been unearthed if not for our kids. We are considered the teachers, but I would argue a reversed truth - our children are our greatest teachers.

All children bring with them a myriad of experiences that inevitably become a mother’s own reality. Kids grow and change with every day that passes and we, as their mothers, do the same. Their gifts, talents, passions, and challenges pave the path that we join them on. We are intrinsically intertwined with our children and that bond is steadfast. We may have ideas or ideals about what we think our children should be, but the greatest irony of being a mother is learning that control is most often an illusion. This brings me to those moms that have so deeply learned this lesson - those that have children who don’t fall into the neat box that the world has drawn in permanent marker. Undoubtedly, for every mom in this position, this absence of control was felt with all of their mind, body, and soul - likely one of the most all-consuming lessons of their life.

BUT...

Moms may not be able to control everything, we may not have chosen to write our story as it has been written, and what a gift that is! The result is the fulfillment of, with the greatest magnitude and intensity, everything it is to be a mother. Our kids that exist outside the lines, take our hands and show us how full those words on the greeting cards can be. We get motherhood bigger, stronger, richer, and deeper. What is life about if not experiencing a love that grows and changes us, a love that writes its own story and takes us to places we never thought we would go? How perfect the story is, how vital the characters are!

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Catherine Winship has been a Westview parent since August of 2015. Catherine writes and hosts a blog called One Autism Experience where she shares her family's personal experiences navigating the world of autism.  

Autism at Work: A Look at Neurodiversity in the Workplace

April 26, 2022
By Sarah Chauvin

A recent Facebook post from Westview parent Rex Burch, a Houston attorney, touting the benefits of hiring a former Westview student at his law firm:  

“Some of you know that we hired a Westview graduate at my law firm a few years back. Ryan is still with us and is doing great work. In his areas (data entry and manipulation), he’s the best we have. He has really settled in, and everyone likes him. If you're in a hiring position, I encourage you to consider a Westview grad. We’re extremely lucky to have Ryan.”

Ryan Malik was a student at The Westview School from preschool until sixth grade. After transitioning to homeschool for his remaining middle school and high school years, Ryan enrolled at the University of Houston and began working towards a bachelor's degree in cultural humanities. Ryan returned to The Westview School in 2018 and worked as a psychology practicum student at The Stewart Center through the end of the 2019 academic school year.

When asked about his time as a student at Westview, Ryan remembers how accommodating Westview was for kids with autism. “[Westview] was quiet and nice. So many other schools demand you learn in a specific way, and the atmosphere is very different [at Westview].“ A typical school seemed chaotic and overwhelming to Ryan, but Westview “felt calming.“

Finding employment is a challenge for many young adults, autism or not, and Ryan was looking for work post his internship with The Stewart Center. One way that Ryan helped position himself for employability is that he took online courses via LinkedIn. This self-paced learning on how to use Microsoft Word and Excel gave Ryan a strong set of skills to bring to his next job. "I know so much about how to work Excel and Word," said Ryan. Ryan describes sometimes losing interest and lacking motivation in certain subjects, but he had found something that interested him, he excelled at, and he was able to focus on. When he started looking for a new place to work, he had a high level of self-taught skills to bring with him.

"Dr. [Natalie] Montfort approached me about Rex [Burch] looking for someone to do data entry at his law firm," said Ryan. "I said 'yes,' quickly to the opportunity." Three years later, Ryan is still there and enjoying his job. And according to Rex Burch, Ryan is a key member of Bruckner Burch Law Firm. 

Ryan’s daily job tasks at Bruckner Burch vary, but a typical day will find him answering incoming calls, taking messages, and transferring calls to the paralegals. He will sometimes pick up the mail, but Ryan’s primary function is data entry.

“We have hired lots of people at this firm who have done data entry. [Data entry] is a very valuable job in many organizations - law firms in particular.” Rex had high praise for Ryan’s data entry skills and his contribution to Bruckner Burch: “Ryan is the best. It’s not that he keeps pace with everyone else. He is the best.”

Rex added that Ryan is no different from any other employee at the office. “The only ‘support’ that Ryan receives that other employees don’t is that we bring him back and forth to work daily in an Uber or Lyft,“ said Rex. “Once he is at the office, no other support is required.“

Ryan and Rex communicate very well with each other. Rex shared, “One of the things Ryan understands is if I say do ‘this,’ I mean you should do it exactly like ‘this.’” Rex confessed that a big problem at work is when he instructs people to “do this“ they may think what he means is “do that.“ Rex said, “That’s not a problem I ever have with Ryan.“

“Once I know what I am supposed to do,“ said Ryan, “I follow it to the letter.“ When discussing his strength, Ryan showed very good self-awareness because he also recognized that “this can be one of my greatest weaknesses.“ If an instruction gets left out, Ryan doesn’t do it or “misses” a step. “[My co-workers] don’t consider that I sometimes won’t intuit what I’m supposed to be doing without being explicitly told first.“

Rex was not surprised by Ryan’s assessment of his perceived weakness. “Ryan picks on himself about it being a weakness that he doesn’t intuit what he’s supposed to do,“ said Rex. But Rex says that if you give Ryan a job, and it comes out different from what you expected, it is because you didn’t tell him correctly. Ryan will do what you say to do, not what you want him to do. 

Rex also highlights Ryan’s ability to focus as a vital asset in the workplace. Rex describes a light shed moment at work. A large part of Ryan’s job duties consists of data management and the manipulation of spreadsheets; Rex had a particularly vexing data problem and needed an answer. He explained it to Ryan, thinking he would likely get a response by the end of the week. “I am not exaggerating this in any way,“ said Rex, “Ryan literally walked over to my computer, went to the upper left-hand corner, and said, ‘change this to this,’ and the entire spreadsheet changed like that,“ Rex snaps his fingers, “The change gave me the answer I was looking for and the process took no more than five minutes.“

Ryan smiled and nodded his head at Rex's retelling of the event. When asked if he recalled the story, he said “yes.“

Ryan feels encouraged by Rex's assessment of his job. "Many [neurotypical] people out there feel like people with autism are incapable," said Ryan, "but my ability to focus makes me a valuable asset."

Ryan had some closing words of wisdom for Westview students and the people looking to hire them. "More often than not, people from Westview can go on to have successful lives. Because of their unique skills, they would sometimes be a valuable asset to wherever they work." 

A Place Where You Fit: One Child's Story

April 20, 2022
By Elizabeth Gretter

Margaret is six years old. She is a lively, precocious, friendly kindergartner who will soon complete her second year as a student at The Westview School. Her mother, Elizabeth, was the parent speaker at the Westview Fundraising Luncheon held in March 2022. Elizabeth gave a poignant and heartfelt speech on what being a part of Westview has meant to Margaret and her family. Margaret is just one of many successful examples of how children on the autism spectrum can learn, grow, and develop a strong sense of self and an appreciation for others when taught in a nurturing and supportive environment like Westview. This is Margaret’s story as told by her mother, Elizabeth.

Before Westview

The best way to express what Westview has meant to our family is to tell you a bit about what came before. When we first decided to name Margaret, Margaret, we thought we would call her Maggie or Meg, but she showed us that those sweet monikers would never suit her. She was a thoughtful, intense, and wonderfully serious, and stubborn little bundle who simply demanded that we call her Marge. A newborn baby called Marge will always get a chuckle. Her little sister would soon make that Margie, which has stuck.

In her early years, Margie’s development seemed to track. She played with her sister, smiled at us, and began speaking at around the same time as her sister. The word autism never crossed our minds. Independent? Yes. Strong-willed? Absolutely. Different? We noticed, yes. But autism? Never.

At around age 3, Margaret joined a preschool class for the first time. We immediately noticed that she had no interest in interacting with the other kids in her class of 20. She was content to play independently or, as her teacher put it, wander from table to table, observing but never really engaging. The kids around her began to pick up their numbers and letters and draw pictures for their moms and dads. Margie refused to join the teacher at the table, let alone hold a pencil or crayon.

Margie began to withdraw more and more into herself at home, too, repeating the same stories repeatedly, with shocking precision and consistency, and avoiding the neighborhood kids. I remember looking at my husband and saying, “Why does it seem like her world is getting smaller and smaller. What if someday it no longer includes us?”

At her 4-year checkup, our trusted pediatrician, hearing all our concerns, suggested we have Margaret evaluated for autism. The first thing we did was sit down with the director of her preschool. “Margaret is autistic.” We said, “Let’s make a plan.” Their response, “Oh, that’s nonsense. Margaret isn’t autistic. She’s just stubborn and anti-social. We all know that.” After a few deep breaths, counting to four just as Daniel Tiger tells us to do when you “feel so mad that you wanna roar,” I excused myself from the meeting and resolved not to bring Margie back after the upcoming spring break. I picked up the phone and made a call to a place called The Westview School.

A First Look at Westview

The Westview School was recommended by Margie’s psychologist, so we thought we’d give it a try. My husband and I, accompanied by my pleasantly Midwestern but deeply protective mother, visited Westview for a tour in February 2020. I felt myself breathing more deeply from the moment we walked through the doors. We were welcomed into the school and, in our first meeting, were asked very simply, “tell me about Margaret.” That was the very first priority - to learn about Margaret. I’m sure my first words were hesitant, laced with the caution that special needs parents learn to use.

“Margie is wonderful. We love her so much. She is ... a lot. She wants to make friends but doesn’t seem to know how. She is having trouble academically, but she is really so smart. Have I mentioned that she is...a lot?”

Unphased, the response was, “we can’t wait to meet her.”

As we walked the halls that first time at Westview, I noticed that the faculty, staff, and students going about their days seemed genuinely happy. Everyone was at ease with each other and relaxed. I began to relax, thinking, “Wow. “I can see Margaret here.”

The final decision was made when we walked into a small PE class. Without introduction, a little boy walked up to us and said with great delight, “My daddy works in a tall building every day. It’s a very tall building. He wears a shirt just like you.”

When we saw the same little boy later in the tour, he grabbed our attention again, “Oh, hello! Let me tell you about my daddy and his very tall building. It’s a very tall building. He wears a shirt just like you.” Nobody shushed him. Nobody, adults, or other kids, seemed phased because he was repeating the same story. We smiled and thought, “yep, these are Margaret’s people.”

These Are Our People

These are our people. We were right. From day one, the twinkle in the eye of administration as I shared stories of Margie restyling herself as a ballerina named “Ina,” to the warm chuckles during Margie’s admissions interview, in which she sang a jazz-style version of the ABCs, excused herself to go to the bathroom, and never returned...to the warmth I hear in the voices of Margaret’s teachers when they tell me about her day, even the not so great ones; to the welcome, she gets every morning in carpool “Hey, giggle box….”

I am struck again and again by this one resounding truth - they like my kid. They see my child for the beautiful, comical, complicated, smart, sensitive, autistic child that she is and appreciate her in all her quirks. They see her as we do. More than that, they see and have allowed us to see the wildly capable adult that Margie can someday become.

With the benefit of the uniquely small class sizes, patient and skilled educators who really get autism, therapies on-site at The Stewart Center, support specialists who are there for Margaret and our family when things get a little rocky, and Margie’s own grit and determination, I am thrilled to report that Margie is thriving academically and socially. She is writing and sounding out words. She loves math. She draws and sings us songs. She has friends and loves to see them every day. Her future is as bright as she can imagine. Currently, she wants to be a meteorologist. If that doesn’t work out, she says, a lifeguard. Whatever path she chooses, I genuinely believe that she will grow as a person who, above all else, loves herself. Westview has shown her, by example, that she is lovable… and capable. They have shown her that she is deserving of her dreams. For that, we are so grateful.

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This post is an excerpt from a speech given by Elizabeth Gretter at the Westview Fundraising Luncheon held at River Oaks Country Club on Wednesday, March 30, 2022. Elizabeth has been a parent at The Westview School since August of 2020. 

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Five Barriers to Building Independence and How to Break Them 

April 14, 2022
By Brandi Timmons, MEd, BCBA, LBA 

This Spring, as part of our educational series, Westview EDU, The Westview School welcomed Brandi Timmons, Education Director at Social Motions Skills, to share her insight on "Preparing Teens for Next Steps." With 20 years of experience working with children with autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities, Brandi knows that independence plays an essential role in the success of young adults looking to achieve independent living, competitive employment in the community, and a successful future specific to their goals. Brandi identified five common barriers to building independence and provided practical tips on how best to break them. 

What is Independence? 

To start, it's important to note that independence can be defined differently based on the child. Everyone is unique with different abilities, and the level of independence that can be reached will vary from child to child. Striving for independence is something that never really stops. Independence is a growth process. 

For some, independence can be defined as "having individual autonomy, the opportunity to be actively involved in decision-making processes and the opportunity to experience the physical, social, economic and cultural environment." 

For others, "living life based on one's own goals" or "asserting control over your own life choices." 

Brandi reminds parents that there is no right or wrong definition of independence. As your child grows older and nears the teen years, you may hear the term person-centered planning. This means that whatever definition of independence you subscribe to, your child gets a say in that. Through her work with Social Motion, Brandi works with her students to build toward independence, defined as "the ability to live independently and productively in the community and live with the same freedom of choice as a non-disabled person." 

It's Never Too Early to Start Building Independence! 

Brandi finds that some parents are hesitant or don't even know what to do to start building independence. It is essential to realize that independence is a process that needs to start at a very young age. The main reason is that many skills need to be learned and practiced repeatedly. Children, especially those on the autism spectrum, need to have opportunities to practice with someone beside them to give direction and provide reinforcement. Skills may need to be broken down, and tasks analyzed into smaller pieces. Brandi emphasized that we are looking for fluency over mastery when it comes to skills that lead to independence. Mastery means that you can do a skill now; you might be able to do it next week; with a bit of practice, you may do it a month from now, but there is no guarantee that you are going to. If you have learned a skill to fluency, you never have to think about it. For our kids, it takes a lot of processing to learn a skill to fluency, so it is never too early to start. 

BARRIER #1: PROMPT DEPENDENCE 

Parents frequently use prompting and modeling as teaching tools when a child is young. Both methods are evidence-based practices for children with autism and can be quite effective. However, as a child ages, it is necessary to begin to fade the prompts, so the child learns not always to be dependent on them. A prompt-dependent child won't do what they know to do and are capable of until prompted. They may lose the motivation to try things on their own and learn to expect someone to step in and help and even complete the task. This is not ideal. In some instances, this can lead to learned helplessness, whereas a child feels like they are not capable and automatically expects someone to step in and help. "Reteaching motivation is tough," says Brandi. She encourages parents to prevent learning helplessness before it even starts. 

There are three proven ways to alleviate prompt dependence. First, begin to fade prompts as you are teaching skills. If you start with a verbal prompt, it gradually begins to fade to a visual prompt. Next, practice patience. Try to wait and not offer help before it's needed! Everyone deserves the right to try something on their own. And, finally, know what your child can do. Try not to give them something too hard. Brandi talks about "knowing that sweet spot,” and giving your child something that won't make them become overly frustrated. 

BARRIER #2: LIFE DOESN'T HAPPEN BY MAGIC! 

Have you heard the phrase, if you want something done right, do it yourself? When it comes to building independence with your child with autism, do not follow this adage. Brandi finds that more and more young adults have no idea what it takes to run a household because parents' expectations are so few. Sure, it is way easier for you to wash, dry, fold, and put away the towels, but if you don't expose your child to how things work at home, they will not learn. It may be easier to do things on your own, but you need to incorporate them into your daily routines to help them understand what makes your home run. 

A few tried, true, and simple practices Brandi shared for teaching your child about all the things it takes to manage a life are: 

- Give your child appropriate chores. 

- Set aside intentional time each week to teach new skills. 

- Be available to assist as needed. 

- Consistently talk to your child about things you do and your responsibilities. 

BARRIER #3: MASKING 

Masking is very common in autism. A child may mask to try to fit in better and as an attempt to hide their differences from others. A child may learn to copy social cues that people are doing to fit in. Masking is also called camouflaging or compensating and is an example of a social survival strategy. How does masking become a barrier to independence? In Brandi's experience, when learning employment skills or independent living skills, young adults who have adopted masking as a social survival strategy will answer "yes" to questions such as, "Do you understand?" And, would likely answer ”no” when asked, “Do you need help?" "Do you have any questions?" They try to hide that they don't understand the instructions or don't know what is going on. The result of masking in these situations is making mistakes and not meeting the expectations on the job. They need to be able to unmask and tell when they need help. 

The key to breaking the masking barrier is encouraging your child to ask for help. When you give your child directions, have them repeat instructions back to you. This way, you will know that they heard what you said. Your child will need to internalize what was instructed to repeat back to you. In addition, teach your child how to ask for help and understanding and express and talk about their emotions. All the above will help your child break the barrier of masking and will help support growth in self-advocacy and be crucial to independence and overall success. 

BARRIER #4 FALSE SENSE OF REALITY 

Parents praise their children. But sometimes, children who are praised so often just for trying their best learn to believe that just trying is good enough. This can be tricky, says Brandi, because we want our kids to try. Trying is a good thing. However, when we are talking about independence, transition, and the world of employment, sometimes trying your best is not always good enough. Jobs have expectations, and employees must meet those expectations. Both children and young adults need to learn that if they are asked to complete a task and fail that there are natural consequences and what those are. 

Brandi shared several strategies for alleviating the barrier of a false sense of reality. The first is to let them fail. Sometimes, we do our kids a disservice because we don't let them try and not succeed. Should we let them fail every time? No, it is necessary to step in and support them to be successful. Sometimes, it is in their best interest to let them do something and fail so that they learn about the consequences. Also, don't fix everything. As parents, we are sometimes quick to jump in and fix things for our children. Resist the temptation. Also, talk and teach your child about natural consequences. Use examples from your own life. What happens if you don't complete a task? What would happen if you didn't put gas in your car? What are the consequences of not going to the dentist or brushing your teeth? Implementing these strategies can help your child understand how to work toward meeting expectations and what the consequences are when you fail. 

BARRIER #5 LACK OF PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS 

Problem-solving is a key component to independence. Brandi sees many young adults who have not learned how to solve problems on their own. Not knowing what to do can sometimes result in doing nothing. They don't know what to do next and they don't know who to ask for help. Problem-solving is a skill that doesn't happen overnight. Children with ASD learn through direct instruction and experience with problem-solving. Brandi used an example of our brains being like a filing cabinet. Our filing cabinets are filled up by themselves as we grow and learn, but children with autism need help to fill their filing cabinets. They need us to create the files and put the information in there. As parents, we need to create situations for them to problem solve and put information in their file so later, when they experience something similar, they have the knowledge to pull back on and relate to a situation. It is crucial to start teaching problem-solving when your children are small. 

When thinking of strategies to alleviate the barrier of lack of problem-solving, Brandi used the term "intentionally sabotage." While to "intentionally sabotage" your child may go against your parenting instincts, what it means is when you have a situation going on, you leave out a piece. Brandi shared an example of asking your child to set the table but intentionally making sure there are no forks in the silverware drawer. Some kids may do nothing and set the table without forks or scream to their mom for help. A parent's response should teach that if the forks are not in the silverware drawer, where to look, and then walk through the steps to solve the problem. These situations can be as complex or easy as you want; take out a step and help them to solve the problem. It is helpful to talk through problem-solving strategies with your child, don't just give them the answer or fix all their problems. Teach them the steps. It also may benefit them to model problem solving for them. 

Brandi stressed that the important thing for parents to remember is that independence is a process! From children to young adults, independence looks different for everyone. If you have a definition of independence specific for your child and know the goal, you will be able to step back and start working towards it. As a parent, realize that no matter where you are on the independence journey for your child, start today. You can choose one easy strategy to implement and begin moving your child toward a future of success and independence. 

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Brandi Timmons, M.Ed, BCBA, LBA is a Licensed Board-Certified Behavior Analyst and a TEA certified special educator. She has almost 20 years of experience working with individuals with autism - 14 of those in public school classrooms. She is currently working as an educational consultant for the alliance with Social Motion and The Center for Pursuit. Her talents include writing social skills curricula and producing educator and parent training. One of her passions is creating new programs to serve those in the autism community. She has been published in Autism Parenting Magazine, served as co-principal investigator on several research initiatives in conjunction with the University of Houston, and is a national conference speaker. When she isn't working, you'll find her spending time doing her other favorite things - riding horses and gardening. 

This blog post was adapted from the presentation given during WestviewEDU on Thursday, March 3, 2022. WestviewEDU is an education series presented by The Westview School for parents and caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorder. For a full list of WestviewEDU sessions for 2021/2022 academic calendar year, visit The Westview School online.  

Ask the Experts: How to Manage Meltdowns

April 06, 2022
By Michael McKee, Ed.S., LSSP, NCSP, Jessica Guerra, M.Ed

We have all been there. You can hear the tone change in your child’s voice. You can see their face start to scrunch up. Your heart drops. “No! Please not now,” you scream in your head. But there is nothing you can do to stop it; your precious little cherub is about to enter into a full-blown, spine-tingling, cringe-worthy explosion of screaming, flailing, and flopping. It is like you see the train coming, and you can’t get off the tracks. Your stomach turns, and you feel the anger well up inside you. Your child is about to have a meltdown, and you can honestly feel like you might also have one yourself. So, what do you do? Scream back? Spank them? Drop everything, walk in the opposite direction, and don’t stop until you touch ocean water?

If you are calm and rational, you probably realize that none of those strategies will be very effective. However, in the heat of emotionality, they do seem like appropriate responses. This is one of the first and most important things to note when dealing with a meltdown… the first causality of emotionality is rationality. Simply speaking, when you get stressed or emotional, you tend not to think rationally. This goes for both the child and adult. When dealing with a true “meltdown,” or the inability to control one’s behavior, it is important to understand that you are not dealing with a rational individual at that point. This is much different than a tantrum, which is purposeful misbehavior to obtain a specific goal (i.e., obtain a toy or avoid going somewhere undesired... More on that in a different blog post). During a true meltdown, an individual’s emotions have taken over, resulting in irrational behavior.

So, how do you rationally respond to an irrational person? The first step is to remain as calm as possible, which is admittedly easier said than done. From there, you are simply ensuring safety and trying to help calm. You want to make sure that your child’s behavior won’t lead to injury to themselves or others, so blocking them from breakable objects or other people. You may also need to intervene if they are running toward a busy street or other unsafe location. In these situations, you may have to physically move them to ensure their safety. You will need to find a designated spot for them to calm down or where they can have space to calm down. If you need to pick them up and leave where you are, don’t feel bad about leaving or the looks you may receive from others. Most people have been there, and those that haven’t will likely be at some point in their lives. What goes around comes around.

In the middle of a true meltdown is not the time to attempt to have a rational conversation with your child. Keep conversation to a minimum. When you do talk, speak in a calm voice and simply state what you need to say without any extra verbiage. Simple phrases such as “Deep breaths,” “Squeezes,” or “You are ok. I have you,” are much more effective than, “Bobby, knock it off and get in the cart, or mommy will not buy you that toy. This is the last time I am going to warn you! STOP IT! Do you want me to call your father?!?!?”

Once the meltdown has subsided and rationality returns, then it is a good idea to speak to your child about what happened and what could be done differently next time. This conversation is particularly important because it can help you understand what triggered the meltdown so that you can either avoid it or be better prepared for it next time. Preparation is key to helping prevent meltdowns in the future by having appropriate resources (i.e., headphones for potentially loud places) or strategies (i.e., prewarning for changes or having visuals to prompt and show calming techniques) in place and ready if you need them. All behavior is communication, so understanding what your child was trying to communicate to you will help you immensely to avoid future meltdowns.

Remember, meltdowns are a behavioral response to being emotionally overwhelmed. They are NOT a result of a parenting fail. While you cannot prevent all meltdowns, staying calm and being prepared will result in a much better outcome for all involved without having to scream, spank, or split town.

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Michael McKee, EdS, LSSP, NCSP received his Master of Arts Degree and Educational Specialist Degree in School Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). After an internship, he spent seven years as a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology (LSSP) working for Texas public school districts in Burleson, Frisco, and Katy, where he conducted evaluations and worked with students with emotional, behavioral, and/or developmental disabilities, including those with autism spectrum disorder. He has also previously worked in the Dyslexia Center at MTSU and as a Crisis Counselor at the Family and Children’s Services’ Crisis Hotline in Nashville, Tennessee. Michael's main areas of interest include autism, assessment, positive behavior supports, and parent advocacy.

Jessica Guerra, M.Ed received her Master of Education Degree in Special Education with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of Houston-Victoria. She worked as a Registered Behavior Technician for 5 years, where she conducted assessments, wrote behavior intervention plans, and provided direct therapy for individuals with emotional, behavioral, and/or developmental disabilities. Jessica also worked in Early Childhood Intervention as a Specialized Skills Trainer providing families with skills on how to help children meet their developmental milestones and work towards them. Her main areas of interest include autism, behavior intervention plans, PECS, and visual supports.

Recent Posts

5/5/22 - By Catherine Winship
4/26/22 - By Sarah Chauvin
4/20/22 - By Elizabeth Gretter
4/14/22 - By Brandi Timmons, MEd, BCBA, LBA 
4/6/22 - By Michael McKee, Ed.S., LSSP, NCSP, Jessica Guerra, M.Ed

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