During graduate school, I worked for a period of time as a Behavioral Specialist at any agency for developmentally disabled adults on Long Island. I wrote behavior plans for many behaviorally challenged adults and trained staff on how to implement those plans. Although I loved this job and had a blast with my coworkers, I never saw myself working with a population with these types of special needs on a long-term basis. My true passion was working with neurotypical adults and children with anxiety disorders, particularly OCD. For this reason, I left my job as a behavioral specialist and accepted a full-time position at a world-renowned treatment center for OCD, the Bio-Behavioral Institute in Great Neck, NY.

Flash forward 10 years or so to Falmouth, Massachusetts where I have a growing private practice, specializing in OCD and related disorders. At some point around that time, I started receiving referrals from a local residential school for students with special needs. My initial referrals from the Riverview School were more related to my specialty. However, as time went on, the students that were being referred in were struggling more with issues of perseveration, rigidity, impulsivity, and communication. The school also started looking to me for help in managing the behavioral issues that ensued as a result of these challenges. My behavioral background certainly came in handy in working with these students, but I also knew, to be truly effective, I needed to work closely with the school staff.

Over the next 10 years, my relationship with the Riverview School staff grew into a beautiful collaborative effort to support their students and families. My staff and I worked on campus with a large number of students for many years. I came to love the diversity of this work and came to absolutely adore the students I worked with. I truly believe they taught and continue to teach me much more than I teach them.

Many Riverview students, after graduating, move on to various residential programs on the Cape, and I have supported many of them throughout this transition. In watching my clients move on to the next phase of their lives, I noticed some gaps in needed services for certain individuals who did not fit neatly into the typical programs available. Some were not quite independent enough to move into supported independent living (SIL) programs but were also not good candidates for more supportive environments such as group homes. There were also those who wanted nothing more than to work yet were unable to find adequate support and coaching to achieve their goals. This prompted me to launch, after lots of trials and tribulations, our ASPIRE Coaching Program, which provides fully customized coaching services to help our clients live and work as independently as possible. In the Fall of 2019, we launched our first ASPIRE Residence. This beautiful, ocean view residence supports five adults with Autism and other special needs. A true hybrid program, the ASPIRE Residence allows all residents to live in their own or shared apartments, which they can take pride in, and provides 24-7 staff support to assist them in achieving their goals.

Most recently, we have ventured over to Martha’s Vineyard, developing another out-of-the-box live-in coaching arrangement. We are also excited to collaborate with Island Autism and the planning of its new residential program for adults with Autism.

I am so proud of the work our ASPIRE team puts forth to support our clients, embracing their beautiful diversity and always believing in their potential to continue growing and achieving. It is an honor to work with this amazing team and continue the work that I have truly come to cherish.