Amy Cameron, MA,
Certified RDI Consultant,
When I started in the field of Speech-Language Pathology, I was fortunate to have the chance to work with children with autism. At that time, the incidence of autism was 1/2500. Now the incidence of autism is 1/150, with some studies indicating that it may actually be closer to 1/64. Autism is an epidemic. The impact of autism is overwhelming the medical and educational communities. When I see how autism can devastate precious families, my determination and resolve to do all I can is renewed.
I am originally from Pittsburgh, PA. I attended Purdue University from 1984 to 1988, where I earned my Bachelor's Degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology. After moving to the DC metro area, I went to the University of Maryland and earned a Master's Degree in Speech and Language Pathology. My internships in the school system and the Kennedy-Krieger Institute exposed me to autism, and started my journey into this field.
My career as a Speech-Language Pathologist led me into the public school system, where I worked with many children with autism. Eventually I started a private practice working with children with autism in their homes. During this time, I was both exhilarated and frustrated by my work. I felt that I was helping children with autism learn to talk, but not addressing their autism.
It was that frustration that drove me to continue my search and study of autism. I attended many seminars and conferences. I spent hundreds of hours on the Internet and reading books. After moving my family to North Carolina, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Steven Gutstein, the founder of RDI, speak at a conference. I remember the gratitude I felt hearing him articulate the difficulties that people with autism experience on a daily basis. And I remember the relief I felt when he began mapping a way to address autism directly. I earned my first Certification in RDI in 2004, and since then have been re-certified five times. I currently mentor and supervise other professionals seeking RDI Certification through the Connections Center in Houston, TX. I also am state and nationally certified through ASHA as a Speech and Language Pathologist.
I started Pathways Treatment Center in 2004 with a vision of a place of caring, respect, and real solutions for families affected by autism. Since then, this practice has become a family of families and professionals who work together for real solutions. We host monthly parent meetings that have developed a true community of people to support and mentor each other. I personally feel a strong bond with each of the families I work with. I am honored to celebrate their accomplishments and brainstorm their issues with them. This work is my life's calling and purpose.
Anat Shemer, Occupational Therapist
RDI Certified Consultant
Hello and shalom - I'm Anat.
I was born and lived in Israel until 2005, when I moved to Chapel Hill, NC.
In the early 90's, I graduated from the medical school of Tel-Aviv University as a Certified Occupational Therapist. During the next 12 years, I worked in a mental health clinic for adults and also in a special school for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In my work in the mental health clinic, I was fortunate to collaborate with a team of doctors, social workers and psychologists. I specialized in group therapy, individual counseling and the usage of various occupations (such as art, cooking, literature and writing) to enhance the health and the quality of life for my clients.
The larger part of my work was in the school with children with ASD. We accepted children in the ages 3-13 in various conditions - even children that in the past used to be hospitalized due to their huge challenges. We had 40 children every year, divided into small classes with many inclusion opportunities, as we were an integral part of a mainstream elementary school.
I loved being part of a huge staff, working side by side with special Ed, teachers, speech and language pathologist, drama therapists, art and music therapists, psychologists and autism specialists.
In my work as an occupational therapist, I provided individual and group therapy, family therapy and counseling, and staff coaching. I designed intervention plans, was involved in each child's IEP, and developed support programs for children and staff in the school to enhance inclusion of our children with ASD. I also became very interested in the bio-medical approach to improve the health of children with ASD and I am continuing to participate in Internet groups and to read about this approach constantly.
I found that the most meaningful aspect, dearest to my heart, is the professional and personal connections with the families.
When I moved to North Carolina with my three daughters and my husband (who teaches biology at UNC), I decided that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to become an RDI consultant. I pursued my RDI Certification and came to work at Pathways Treatment Center with Amy Cameron, who shares my passion for autism.
When working with families of children with ASD, it is mostly important for me to maintain a high level of ethics, to honor the privacy and the values of each family, and to provide support and stability. Honesty and open communication are very important to me. I need to be very professional when working with families of children with ASD, and at the same time I know it is not a profession; it's a passion and a life-commitment.