Early in life I knew that I wanted to help children with special needs. I grew up hearing stories of my how my grandmother taught my cousin, Matt, to walk and learn, in spite of doctor predictions. You see, when Matt was born, it was found that he was oxygen-deprived and the lack of oxygen to his brain caused brain damage. My grandmother had other plans for Matt. She and my uncle didn’t let doctor predictions determine their expectations or his ability. She taught him to walk, increased his life experiences, and helped to shape his behavior.
As I grew up, I knew that I wanted to be like my grandmother: strong, convicted, a difference-maker. It is why I became a special education teacher. It is why, after my first year of teaching, I called my supervisor and asked for a more challenging placement. I told her, “I understand if those are all taken, but please keep me in mind in the future.” Three weeks later she called me. “Sarah, we have a new placement for you.”
It was great! I was introduced to children with autism, most of whom had trouble communicating and exhibited unsafe and/or disruptive behavior. The students made amazing gains and I had found my sweet spot! During my time as a teacher, I worked in three different schools, two school systems, and with wonderful children and families.
Something I did that I loved was to help other teachers find classroom and behavior management solutions. I also traveled to different counties training teachers on strategies for children with autism. I earned my Doctor of Education degree in 2008. I also resigned from my position to stay-at-home with my babies.
One day at church several years later, a friend was lamenting that her almost 4 yr old son with autism was not potty-trained. I immediately replied, “I can potty train him.” She was incredulous and I was filled with certainty. After successfully potty-training him, I decided to start my own practice as a behavior specialist.
My practice grew quickly as I worked out of my home. I joined a private practice group in Knoxville as their behavior specialist and the scope of my practice continued to increase. A couple of years later, the owner of the practice retired and the practice closed. I decided that I would open up my practice again. I also started coursework so that I could become board certified as a behavior analyst, a BCBA, and became certified in May 2018.
Through the course of my career and life, I think of the influence my grandmother has had on me. It is the foundation of my belief: every child can learn. No exceptions. That’s what I do. My aim is to change lives by empowering children and families. We work together to plan strategies that will result in a better quality of life, more success in school, being able to communicate with parents, teachers, and friends.
The TEACH Group has grown to include speech and language services, occupational therapy services, psychological services, and PLAY, a group readiness class designed to teach children how to be successful in a group setting with other children, so that they will be successful in school. Every team member in the practice shares my belief as well. We value collaboration with one another, celebrate the successes of the families we serve, and work hard to ensure that every child experiences that success.
Thanks for listening! If you find that your child may benefit from our services, please contact us and we can give you more information or schedule an appointment.