Executive Director of Curriculum
My son Daniel was diagnosed with PDD-NOS on September 24, 2008, at the age of twenty-six months. As I sat in the developmental paediatrician’s office, I knew what he was going to say, but for those last few moments before walking into his office I still had hope. There is nothing quite like a doctor telling you that your child has Autism. You can literally feel the ground give way beneath you. You stop breathing for just a minute, just long enough to realize that the life you had planned, the life you had dreamed of, is gone just like that. The doctor shakes your hand, and off you go, feeling like you’ve just stepped off a plane into a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and don’t understand the culture…
Melissa Di Giacomo
What is Autism? I was faced with this question during a lecture in my Brain and Behaviour class as a psychology undergrad at York University. My professor notified my class of an upcoming group presentation/assignment, and we were offered various choices of “hot” topics to choose from. Autism happened to be one of them. As my partner and I contemplated, we eventually chose Autism. As for myself, I did recall hearing this famous word throughout various news articles and research papers…
Growing up, I was lucky to have been surrounded by educators who instilled in me a love of learning. I earned my Honours Bachelor of Arts & Science in English and Zoology from the University of Toronto and my Bachelor of Education from the University of Ottawa. During my final year of study, I also completed an Applied Behaviour Analysis for Educators course at the Geneva Center.
My name is Jenna Williams and I am very excited to be joining the team at The Lighthouse. This will be an amazing working environment for me and an exceptional learning environment for the children that I love teaching.
It is my pleasure to introduce myself as a new teacher joining the Lighthouse Learning and Development Centre. I joined the Intermediate/Senior classroom in May, 2016 to get to know students before the end of the school year. I am excited to learn more about each student and am confident that our transition to myself as a full time teacher for this class will be as smooth as possible…
I am a huge believer of celebrations! Victories are a cause to celebrate no matter the size or length of time it took to achieve it. It is individual to each person and it is exciting! The effects of positive attention and a positive work environment is a clear correlation with a positive mindset and behaviour. This is simply the truth! Don’t we all like to be told we are doing a good job when working towards our goals!
Life is a message to the world, and it is my mission to make sure it is inspiring!
My name is Dianne Dalisay, and I’m proud to be part of The Lighthouse Family as Instructor Therapist in the ABA class.
I have been blessed to be in the field for over 10 years. My experience and passion for children with autism has become a huge part of my life and it has made me a better person and mother for my four little kiddies at home!
I knew at a very young age that I was interested in working with children but I wasn’t quite sure in what capacity. I knew that I would enjoy teaching very much but I felt that I wanted to contribute to in a different way. My passion for working with youth grew when I started working at YMCA summer camps when I was 15. I absolutely loved working as a camp counsellor and continued to work with YMCA summer camps for many years.
Growing up I always knew that I wanted to work with children. I always thought I would be a kindergarten/primary teacher. When my younger cousin was diagnosed with Autism in 2006 I knew right then that I wanted to work in the field of developmental disabilities to assist those who needed a little extra help.
I have known from a young age that I have wanted to work with children with neurodiversities. A person very special to me has Downs Syndrome, and I spent my summers as a child assisting in his treatment in any capacity by learning sign language to communicate with him (he is now fully verbal! ), and ensuring that he was treated inclusively, and that anything and everything would be done to guarantee that he would reach his full potential. He has accomplished so many impressive milestones in his life, and has so many more to come.
I’ve always known that I’ve wanted a career that helped people, was rewarding, and made others, as well as myself, happy. I just wasn’t sure exactly what that would be. It wasn’t until I was in my fourth year of university that a last minute course was offered on autism. I decided to switch into the class, not knowing at all what to expect, or much about autism. I quickly learned that a career in this field is what I’ve always wanted and described, I just didn’t know it at the time.
Brittany So is a registered Occupational Therapist with York Paediatric Therapy Services. She works with clients in the clinic setting, home setting, and consults at private schools throughout the GTA.
Brittany completed her Bachelors of Kinesiology and Masters of Occupational Therapy at McMaster University. Brittany has additional training in Handwriting Without Tears, Neurodevelopmental Therapy, introduction to DIRFloortime, and various sensory and self-regulation workshops.
Dr. Amanda Azarbehi
Consulting Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Azarbehi has over a decade of experience working as a researcher and therapist within the field of Clinical Psychology providing assessment and intervention services to children, teens, and adults. Her areas of past and present academic research include: Childhood Developmental Delays, Early Intervention Programs…