Featured CAS-Lisa A. Phalen, M.S.Ed., CAS

Lisa A. Phalen, M.S.Ed., CAS

City/State:  Virginia Beach, VA

School/Organization: ARC – Autism Resources and Consultation


1) How has earning the Certified Autism Specialist been meaningful and satisfying?

Earning the CAS credential has been a meaningful experience to me for many reasons, and one of the high points of my career. I have worked in the field of autism for over 20 years as a special education teacher, ABA tutor, and consultant. I have seen the changes over time in autism awareness, diagnostics, and services. When I began my career in education, autism was placed under the umbrella of emotional disabilities, and was difficult to specialize in as a separate category. It is exciting that there is now a credential recognizing professionals who wish to specialize in autism, and is an important step forward in service delivery. It became more personal to me as a parent, when my now 21 year old son was diagnosed with autism as a preschooler.  I have dedicated my personal and professional life to being an educator and advocate for families and children with autism spectrum disorders. I recently had the opportunity to complete the Autism Certificate Program at Old Dominion University, which moved me forward to become a Certified Autism Specialist.

2) How has the CAS credential affected your professional growth?

The CAS credential has validated my dedication and desire to work in the field of autism, and has opened up opportunities for professional development. In addition to my work in the special education and ABA field, I have started a consulting service providing training to teachers, para professionals, and community workers in autism spectrum disorders.

3) What changes need to be made in your work environment?

In my work for insurance companies who provide ABA services, I feel that the emphasis is weighted too heavily on the intervention, and not enough on the diagnostic aspects of autism. While the intervention is evidence based, it is also important to understand the unique characteristics of this diverse population. I would like to see insurance companies require that service providers specialize in autism within their scope of practice. I feel that this approach would result in the most effective ABA programming and goal mastery for children with autism spectrum disorders.

4) How do you like to be recognized, acknowledged and rewarded for a job well done?

It is always gratifying to be recognized by peers and colleagues for doing a good job. I feel the greatest satisfaction comes from parents who express gratitude to me for the progress that their child has made.

5) What is your greatest challenge or roadblock?

Misinformation and stereotypes regarding autism.

6) What makes you feel like a valuable contributor?

A combination of experience, education, and dedication to the field of autism.

7) What support, tools/resources, skills or empowerment do you need to be more effective?

I am hopeful that the CAS certification will become more recognizable in time. I am proud to be among the professionals who hold this credential.

8)What strengths or talents do you possess that aren’t being used?

I would like my CAS credential to be accepted for assessment, evaluation, and programming for ASD clients in the insurance industry.

9)What demotivates you?

Low expectations for children with ASD frustrates me, but it also makes me more determined to help them succeeed.

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