Our facilitators are AANE staff, consultants, or volunteers who themselves are on the autism spectrum, have family members on the spectrum or have worked extensively with the Asperger/autism community.
Bridget Behan, MSED, is a school counselor in Philadelphia and has worked with kids and adolescents on the Autism Spectrum for the past five years. As a counselor, Bridget runs support groups related to building social skills, confidence, and finding your fit. Contact: email@example.com
Michele Cantara is the Co-Director of Adult Services at AANE and the mother of a young adult with ASD who is taking college classes and working part-time. She recognized her son's social interaction issues early on because she studied psycholinguistics as an undergraduate. In 1998 she co-founded the Massachusetts Special Education Parents Advisory Council (MASSPAC). She also spent 35 years in the high-tech industry, and now applies her consulting and change management skills in adult consultations, parent coaching sessions, and support groups. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shari Coon-Retelle, has a BS in Rehabilitation Counseling and has been working as a certified American Sign Language interpreter in MA for more than 30 years. She is also the parent of two young adults, including a transgender son who is autistic. Shari is interested in creating opportunities for parents to share and get support around having a child with the commonly coexisting identities of being both transgender/gender exploring and autistic. Contact: email@example.com
Brenda Dater, MPH, MSW is the Associate Director of AANE and the author of Parenting Without Panic. Brenda is mom to three sons, including a college graduate with an Asperger profile. Brenda has completed the Federation for Children with Special Needs parent consultant training and a fellowship with the Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership at Tufts University. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leslie Feinberg is the NY Resource & Referral Specialist at AANE and founded Supporting Our Young Adults Network (SOYAN) which she created to meet the needs of parents in the community whose children utilize NYS self-directed services so they may lead a self-determined life. Contact: email@example.com
Christa Flanagan, M.Ed is an Adult Services Consultation Specialist and LifeMAP Coach at AANE. Her experience advising college students and their families through higher education has given her the insight needed to support individuals in working toward their personal, educational, and independent living goals. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dena Gassner, MSW, Ph.D. Candidate is an Adjunct Professor in the Autism Certificate Program at Towson University. She is a contributing author to Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism and a national board member for Arc US and has provided consultative services and given testimony to the Government Accountability Office in Washington and at the UN in Geneva. Contact: email@example.com
Thomas Hall holds a BSEE in Electrical Engineering and an MS in Nutrition and Biochemistry. He is a retired Professor of Electrical Engineering Technology as well as an instructor of Computer Science for a bit. Thomas received his Asperger's diagnosis a few years ago though he always knew he was different.
Nicholas Haslam is the LifeMAP Administrative Assistant at AANE and also co-facilitates the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Interest Series and was first introduced to DnD over 20 years ago, but has been campaigning for the last five years. As a player, he favors gish characters. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dania Jekel, MSW is the co-founder and Executive Director of AANE. She is an internationally recognized expert and leader in addressing the impact of Asperger syndrome and related autism profiles on individuals and families. Dania is a sought-after speaker and one of the first people to develop programs to train professionals about the needs and strengths of people on the autism spectrum, especially adults, women, and those who receive a diagnosis later in life. She also serves on the Massachusetts Autism Commission. Contact: email@example.com
Bonnie Kaplan stays at the cutting edge of valuable resources, services, and research by attending many conferences and presentations each year. She is always interested in learning the latest information and gets tremendous satisfaction from sharing this information with members of the support group. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gail Kastorf, M.Ed. is the Grant Writer at AANE. Gail has provided training to educators, career counselors, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and employers. She has also assisted adults to understand how Asperger’s may impact their work-life and offers strategies to increase success on the job. Contact: email@example.com
Robert Lagos holds a BS degree from UCLA and is a computer programmer analyst and statistician. He has presented at events and workshops for AANE, Sweetser, and Southern Maine Autism Conference and has mentored teens and young adults with autism. Robert is also a co-author with Wilma Wake and Eric Endlich of the book, "Older Adults: The Lost Generation" and is a “virtuoso” classical pianist. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Toby W. Liebowitz is the Director of AANE Rhode Island. She is a retired special educator and facilitates support groups for parents of adults with Asperger Syndrome or similar diagnoses. She has taught many students and has members of her extended family on the Autism spectrum. She enjoys encouraging families to share their challenges and successes with each other. Contact: email@example.com
Aaron Levinger is the LifeMAP Data Entry Specialist and Administrative Assistant and facilitates several groups at AANE. He has spoken for the Understanding Our Differences program in addition to speaking to many groups of students and other audiences. In 2013, Aaron was given the Katie Lynch Memorial Award as Speaker of the Year. Aaron works other part-time jobs, including one at his local public library. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Allyson Linehan is the Adult Services Consultation & Coaching Specialist and a LifeMAP Coach at AANE. Allyson has worked over 30 years in the human service field and has a Masters in Pastoral Counseling from Boston University. She enjoys helping clients achieve their goals and dreams. Contact: email@example.com
Janeka Melanson is the Director of Online Learning/Conference Coordinator at AANE. Janeka is married with two daughters and is a member of the board of the Special Education Parental Advisory Council and Parent Teacher Organization, as well as a Special Olympics Coach. She is an advocate of self-care and exercise, especially for those raising children with unique challenges. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Grace Myhill, MSW is the Director of Couples and Partner's Services at AANE and of The Peter M. Friedman Neurodiverse Couples Institute. She specializes in working with neurodiverse couples who encounter difficult or unfulfilling relationship dynamics with their partners or spouses. Grace is also in private practice and works with individuals, couples, groups with other neurotypical partners or couples, and in intensive workshops with other couples. Contact: email@example.com
Nisha Narvekar, MA, Ph.D. Candidate has been with AANE in various capacities. She was LifeMAP Assistant Director and a seasoned LifeMAP coach. Nisha enjoys a rich experience from working with a diverse set of clients. While in India, Nisha worked with underprivileged children at a high risk of HIV, using dance therapy for group counseling and creating HIV awareness. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Christy Olivieri, MSED utilizes The Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS®) curriculum in supporting adolescents to develop both social and executive functioning skills. PEERS® is world-renowned for providing evidence-based social skills treatment to individuals on the autism spectrum, and or with ADHD, anxiety, depression, and other socio-emotional problems.
Amaya Salas Moggia - Soy una madre de un niño de 5 años dentro del espectro. Fue diagnosticado cuando tenía 3 años y medio. Encontré el grupo de padres latinos de AANE en junio del 2020 y puedo decir que hay un antes y un después de encontrarlo. AANE fue luz en un momento de total oscuridad. El grupo me ayudó no solo a descubrir qué nos pasaba como familia sino que nos hizo saber que no estábamos solos. Es muy importante el apoyo y la ayuda emocional. Así que ahora espero poder devolver esa ayuda que nos brindaron y poder apoyar a otras familias. Contact: email@example.com
Judy Omidvaran founded the Westchester County Autism Advisory Committee in 2009 to inform elected officials, policymakers, government agency management, and law enforcement of the needs of those with autism, particularly the unserved needs of adults. The committee meets regularly with the Department of Community Mental Health leadership. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pam Palmucci, MSW recently received her Master of Social Work from Simmons University in Boston and completed her field placement for Threshold at Lesley University, which is a program for young adults who identify as having one or more disabilities. Additionally, Pam completed and received certification from the Federation for Children with Special Needs Parent Consulting Training. Pam remains active as a consultant to Boston Medical Center’s Autism Friendly Initiative. She is most proud to be the mother of three wonderful children, her youngest is a teenager and on the autism spectrum. Contact: email@example.com
Nancy Parker, MSW, LICSW, is the Director of Child and Teen Services at AANE. Previously, Nancy has worked many years as a counselor in hospitals, colleges, and prisons, created mental health training programs for educators, and provided information, referrals, and support to parents of children with mental health issues. Nancy initially contacted AANE as a parent, when her daughter was first diagnosed in 2006. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
George Pelc is a LifeMAP Coach at AANE and has been working with people on the autism spectrum for more than 26 years. He was an early childhood educator and attended the Autism Spectrum Disorders Graduate Program at Antioch University. George then began his decade long career supporting adults and is a very empathetic person who highly values the ability to connect with the individuals he works with. Contact: email@example.com
Branden Plank is an experienced facilitator who has been leading support groups for over a decade. Branden identifies as an individual with an Asperger/autism spectrum profile and his warm and welcoming nature has made him a trusted friend and mentor of many of his group members. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Erica Rémi is the Director of Development at AANE. Erica previously worked at the nonprofit organization Year Up and the consulting firm Development Guild. She has gained extensive knowledge about Asperger/autism profiles through working with neurodiverse colleagues, building relationships with AANE community members, and parenting a child on the spectrum. Contact: email@example.com
Elizabeth Roberts PsyD specializes in the diagnosis and evaluation of individuals across the lifespan with autism spectrum disorder and other learning, developmental, and neuropsychiatric conditions. She currently practices in MA and NY and provides education and mental health with neuropsychological evaluation, psychotherapy, legal advocacy, consultation, training, and supervision. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Marcia Robinson, M.Ed, CAGS is the Coordinator of Volunteer Services and a LifeMAP Coach at AANE. As a school psychologist who practiced in several MA school districts, she uses her expertise and experience to embraces the grandparents of individuals of any age with an Asperger/autism spectrum profile. Marcia offers a balance of information, support, as well as strategies for successful family experiences. Contact: email@example.com
Emily F. Rothman, ScD is a Professor at Boston University School of Public Health and also a student in a licensed mental health counseling program. She co-authored a curriculum for teenagers about pornography and has experience teaching healthy relationships classes to teenagers with an Asperger profile and college students with mental health challenges. Dr. Rothman has appeared on the Today Show, NPR, CNN, Teen Vogue, and other media outlets. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Patricia Schissel, LMSW is the NY Director and a senior clinician at AANE. Her experience includes adjunct faculty at Adelphi University and at the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University. She has served on numerous national committees and boards and has also played an instrumental role in the founding of innovative new programs that have achieved national renown, including the Westbrook Preparatory School. Contact: email@example.com
Leslie Sickels, LCSW is a clinical social worker at Spectrum Services in NY. She specializes in working with neurodiverse couples, individuals with Asperger/autism spectrum profiles, and neurotypical partners. Much of Leslie’s work also focuses on gender, sexuality, and sex as they relate to the unique concerns of individuals on the autism spectrum. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Maxfield Sparrow (Max, for short) is a non-binary/metagender middle-aged Autistic writer, self-advocate, and Direct Support Professional (DSP). Most recently, Max edited the poetry and essay anthology Spectrums: Autistic Transgender People in Their Own Words, from Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Max lives in Durango, Colorado, with Fermat the Wonder Cat.
Leslie Tsui is a social/life coach for young adults with Asperger/autism spectrum profiles. She has completed Level 1 of the Social Thinking Clinical Training Program® and also serves as the parent coordinator for the Ely Center in Needham, MA.
Kelly Urban, LMHC is the Senior Adult Services Consultation Specialist and a LifeMAP Coach at AANE. Kelly previously worked at McLean Hospital, using DBT to teach young women emotion regulation tools and other life skills to move forward in their lives. Kelly is passionate about supporting individuals, families, and professionals, to help navigate what an Asperger profile means for them or those they care about. Contact: email@example.com
Bob Waters has participated in many of AANE’s programs and has contributed his time as a volunteer and as a speaker at several of them. Bob is on the Autism Spectrum and believes very strongly in advancing more compassion and understanding of Neurodivergence in society. Bob loves History, Theater, Music, and learning new ways to help advance the field of Neurodivergence support.
Kim Wutkiewicz worked in AANE's Development Department, where she wrote extensively about the unique experiences of people living with Asperger's and related profiles, particularly women living on the spectrum. Kim has a long history of working with individuals to navigate challenges and find balance, as both a board-certified acupuncturist and registered yoga teacher. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Miriam Zisook, LCSW practices at Looking Glass Counseling and has worked as a designer on assistive and wearable technology. She looks to support and increase the power and participation of disabled people in technology fields. Miriam's work is focused on how learning to make things and solve problems like a designer can help people become more confident, competent, and empowered. Contact: email@example.com
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