Featured Certified Autism Specialist: Dr. Ann Marie Leonard-Zabel

Featured CAS or ACAS Name: Dr. Ann Marie Leonard-Zabel, CAS, ACAS 1 and ACAS 2; Full Professor of Psychology; School Neuropsychologist; Clinical Instructor and Clinical Supervisor

State/Country: Massachusetts

School/ Organizations: Curry College Department of Psychology; NEALAC Clinic – private practice; KidsInc School Neuropsychology Post-Graduate Certificate Program

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

I had the distinct pleasure of earning my CAS, ACAS 1 and ACAS 2. Having these credentials is special to me since I can provide a variety of services to my clientele who have children and youth with ASD. Most of all, I can develop new courses for my college undergraduate program to enhance a given student’s skill set in order to pursue additional graduate training in ASD. In addition, I can enhance my delivery of skills to provide in-depth training to my students who are pursuing a diplomate credential in School Neuropsychology.

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

Hugely! Having these credentials enhances credibility and best practices to service students/clients and families living with ASD. My goal is to offer more services within my private practice and to enhance service delivery that is state of the art in the field. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to train and enhance my professional skill development to help others.

3) How has your CAS or ACAS credential been a benefit to your district/ organization/ or employer?

I believe my credentials  will enhance my college’s course offerings and to prepare college students for a field that needs as many highly trained professionals as possible. My private practice will be enhanced to provide “best practice” approaches with not only assessment but interventions and strategies so necessary to assist families, educators and the medical communities with knowing how to effectively interact with ASD individuals in a positive light.

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

How I would like to be recognized, acknowledged and rewarded for a job well done is when one states, “thank you for helping me understand my child, my student, and/or providing me credible knowledge to pursue a career”. That would be the greatest joy for me coming from my clientele.

5) What is your greatest challenge or roadblock?

My greatest challenge in the field of ASD is to work with someone who does not fully understand ASD and its neurocognitive implications upon learning and behavior. I exercise due diligence and care  when applying research knowledge to help educate the individual, to not only understand the unique needs of ASD, but how to exercise patience, meekness and understanding toward the individual(s).

6) What makes you feel like a valuable contributor?

My career has spanned 35 years and I can say having a solid knowledge base with learning differences and developmental disabilities has allowed me to expand my expertise to help others. I will be  the Keynote Speaker and will present two papers soon at the 24th World Congress on Learning Disabilities at the University of Sunderland, London, England. It is in this venue,  I will  share information with colleagues from around the globe on the topic of “Resilience” despite learning and behavioral disorders. One of my papers will focus on the topic “Solving the Assessment Mystery of Autism Spectrum Disorder from a Pediatric Neuropsychological Perspective”. I believe achieving my CAS, ACAS 1 and ACAS 2 will allow me the avenue to expand my skills to offer more training and program development for children and youth globally.

7) What do you enjoy most about your job?

As a professor and a clinician I am so grateful to have a career that I love and cherish. I enjoy so many facets of my jobs but most of all empowering one to succeed despite his or her personal challenges. Afterall, that is the most important role I can take.

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