Signing on the Spectrum: Meeting the Needs of Deaf Students with Autism365

Friday, October 24, 2008

Signing on the Spectrum:
Meeting the Needs of Deaf Children with Autism

Karen M. Ewing, Ph.D., is an instructor for the Department of Education at Gallaudet University. Dr. Ewing is also a consultant in special education who specializes in deaf students with multiple disabilities. She holds a B.S.E. degree in Elementary Education and Special Education. Dr. Ewing earned her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Gallaudet University in deaf education specializing in multiple disabilities. Dr. Ewing has worked with schools and families in the field of multiple disabilities, autism, ADD/ADHD, and advocacy. She has authored several articles and a chapter on deaf students with multiple disabilities. Her research interests include deaf students with multiple disabilities, autism, and families. Dr. Ewing has two children. Her son was diagnosed with autism at the age of two.

Dr. James Bebko is a Registered Psychologist with a long-standing commitment to the fields of deafness, autism and developmental disabilities, having worked with children, adolescents and families for more than 25 years. He is Professor and Director of the Clinical-Developmental Psychology Programme at the Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto, Canada. He has been a visiting professor at universities in Japan, France and the United States. Dr. Bebko has published research articles in some of the major research journals on child development, autism, deafness, and language disorders, and has been an invited speaker at a variety of regional and international conferences.  He has been a consulting psychologist to many community agencies serving children with autism and developmental disabilities, as well as providing diagnostic, assessment, and consultation services directly to families.

Gayle Goldstein is a Ph.D. student at York University. She is a hearing child of Deaf parents, and has extensive experience working with Deaf children and children who have Autism Spectrum Disorders in educational, clinical and research settings.  She and James Bebko developed a language measure that was published in the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education in 2003. Gayle’s previous research explored strategy use and memory recall among children with ASDs.  Gayle is currently investigating the developmental, social, and cognitive skills of children who are Deaf and who also have ASDs.

Allison Daigle, C.T.R.S. is a graduate, from the University of Southern Maine in the field of Therapeutic Recreation.  She has been a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist for 20 years.  Allison has been a guest speaker at the UMASS yearly internship program providing education to fourth year medical students in the areas of autism and community recreation.  She has developed new programs for children with autism including “Camp Learning with Adventure”, vacation programs for elementary, middle school and high school students.  Alison successfully piloted a physical education program for children on the autism Spectrum as well as an outdoor adventure program for teens.
She is currently the Assistant Director for The Autism Alliance of MetroWest., Inc and has participated in numerous community education projects at the local and state level.  Allison is committed to supporting families living with autism and enhancing the quality of life for those individuals living with autism TODAY. 

Patricia Weismer, M.Ed. and AT Specialist, currently works in the Wellesley (Massachusetts) Public Schools as an Assistive Technology Specialist.  Prior to that, she worked, for eight years, in the Deafblind program at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA.  Her experience ranges from working with early elementary students to students in a Deafblind Vocational Program. She has worked on a variety of projects for increasing literacy skills in children with multiple disabilities.  She has also completed her Master's degree in Assistive Technology from Simmons College where she focused on using a variety of tools to increase access to curriculum and literacy skills for students who require a multi-sensory curriculum.

Terrel Clark, Ph.D., Sanjay Gulati, MD, Jennifer Johnston, Ed.D., CCC-SLP work together at the Children's Hospital Boston Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program in Waltham, MA.  This program provides comprehensive evaluation and consultative services to deaf and hard of hearing children, their physicians, families, schools, and other agencies.  The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program's interdisciplinary team includes hearing and deaf professionals who are experienced in working with infants, children, and adolescents with varying degrees of hearing loss.

Nicole S. Salamy, CCC-SLP received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Villanova University.  In 2002, she graduated from Boston University with a Master of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology.  Nicole has worked at The Learning Center for the Deaf as a speech-language pathologist since 2002.  She has also worked in Early Intervention providing services to deaf and hearing children with autism and their families.  Nicole has been trained in Applied Behavior Analysis and has worked with several children using this therapy technique.  She has also learned and used other therapy approaches unique to children with autism spectrum disorders. 

Eric Pegnam, L.I.C.S.W. is a clinical team leader at the Walker Home and School in Massachusetts. He has worked with children with autism spectrum disorders for over seven years at Walker, and in private practice. Mr. Pegnam provides training and consultations about autism to schools, residential programs and agencies throughout the state. He won a Marlborough SPED PAC award for his work with an autistic child. He has been nominated for two other awards for his work with autistic children: The Heroes in the Fight Award from NAMI Massachusetts and the AANE Award for Excellence in teaching children with Aspergers Syndrome. He is a graduate of Antioch College of New England’s Autism Certificate Program.

Karen Jewett, Ed.S., BCBA is currently the District-Wide Behavior Specialist and Coordinator of Programs for Students with Autism for the Bellingham Public Schools.   Prior to this, Karen worked as a private consultant providing home-based ABA services and consulting services to public schools.    Her experiences also include teaching both preschool and kindergarten inclusion classes, working as a special educator and teaching students (15-22 years-old) at the New England Center for Children.

Christen Szymanski, M.A.,  a late deafened adult, is currently a 4th year Clinical Psychology Doctoral student.  She graduated from Western Maryland College with a degree in Psychology and Deaf Studies. Since 2000 she has worked with children with autism and Asperger's Syndrome at Courage North in Lake George, Minnesota.  Upon entering Gallaudet, she began studying the effects of autism on Deaf children.  She has presented at several national conferences, coauthored two articles for the Odyssey Magazine, and has successfully completed her pre-dissertation research project on the impact of autism in children who are Deaf.  This fall she will be traveling around the country to collect information from parents and teachers about children who are Deaf and have autism.

Stefanie Ellis-Gonzales, MSW is a Deaf mother of three Deaf children. Her oldest child, a daughter, has ASD. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, She worked as a school counselor. Stefanie is the co-founder of Deaf Autreat and has given presentations and written on the topic of Deaf children with autism.

Rosangela Jaech, BSW is a Deaf mother of two Deaf sons, Caleb (8) and Wyatt (5). Caleb was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at age 2 1/2.  She worked as a health educator and school social worker before becoming a stay-at-home mom. Rosangela is the co-founder of the Deaf Autreat.

Mei Kennedy, Ph.D. holds degrees educational technology. She is the Deaf mother of two hearing sons, the eldest of which (now 5 1/2-years-old) was diagnosed with PDD at age 2 1/2. She is a consultant at Viable, Inc., a video relay service provider.

Heidi Clemmey, LCSW,
is a Deaf mother of two boys.  Her youngest Deaf son has a language expressive disorder and mild autism. 
Heidi is an advocate for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, & Children of Deaf Adult (CODA) children on autism spectrum and language challenges to receive
appropriate education and support services in their school system. Currently Heidi is a parent training coordinator for Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Massachusetts Department of Education.

Cariann Harsh, MBA, M.Ed., is the Director of the Autism Division of the MA Department of Mental Retardation (DMR).  Cariann has been with DMR’s Autism Division since August of 2004. At that time the Division only existed as a legislative directive to create a home agency for children across the autism spectrum. Cariann worked with a variety of state agencies and autism community stakeholders to create a strategic plan and goals for the creation of the Division. The legislature funded the Division at a level that has allowed for community based initiatives and programs in fiscal years 2005, 2006 and 2007. In this current fiscal year, the Division has also added a Home and Community Based Services Autism Waiver Program. This Waiver Program is designed to provide in-home and related supports to young children with autism. Cariann has worked on orchestrating the necessary systems and infrastructure development necessary to get this program operational.

Carol Zurek is Deaf and was raised in a Deaf family in Connecticut.  She currently works as Statewide Coordinator of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Supports for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation.  In this role she provides consultation and training to DMR staff and non-profit agencies about communication access, sensitivity to Deaf culture, and working collaboratively to serve individuals who are Deaf.

John “Jack” Raycroft, CLTC is a financial planner at Baystate Financial Services and a Specialist with MetLife’s Division of Estate Planning for Special Kids. He works almost exclusively with families who have a dependent with special needs.  He has presented for organizations including:  The National Downs Syndrome Congress, The Cotting School, Boston Higashi School, The May Centers, Lighthouse School, League School, LADDERS at Mass General Hospital for Children, Greater Plymouth Arc, South Shore Arc, Minuteman Arc, East Middlesex Arc, the Educational Collaboratives, and numerous public school district PAC groups.  Additionally, Jack serves as the Adjunct Planned Giving Director of maaps (Massachusetts Association of Approved Private Schools), a network of over 100 schools/programs serving all populations of the special needs pre-22 community. Jack is a parent of a child with special needs and he volunteers his time for the North Shore Arc, the Special Olympics and The Independent Living Center of the North Shore.

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