Toni has been working with folks on the spectrum for 30 years. Her career started in college when she provided respite and emergency foster care for children with developmental delays and "fell in love with the families".
On graduating from The University of Kansas with her BSW she became the administrator for a residential and day service program for adults where she ensured residents were safe and achieving their personal goals.
Toni received training from the University of Utah through their addictions program and subsequently developed culturally relevant interventions for both addictions and autism utilizing innovative approaches and community collaboration.
Toni worked for the Autism Division through the State of South Carolina first as a consultant and then as Director of the CARE Clinic where she utilized the gold standard tools to provide autism evaluations, as well as training and consultation for families and professionals. In this capacity she learned how the system works and had the opportunity to provide South Carolina teachers and administrators with behavioral training and autism friendly teaching strategies including ABBIS, the state's graduate level applied behavior analysis course.
Her book Autism Translated is the result of the wisdom and insights her clients have shared with her throughout these years.
Today Toni is a speaker, writer and consultant. Her articles on sensory integration are referenced worldwide by families, psychologists, teachers and therapists. She is often referred to as "The Autism Translator".
I work with motivated individuals on the autism spectrum around the globe to support them in setting and reaching their relationships, career and health goals.
I also work with families, schools, companies, churches and other community organizations to create autism-friendly environments and foster successful communication.
Motivated to work
John came to Toni wanting to work. He had moved to Charleston three years ago and though he had tried, he had not been able to get a job on his own during this time. While John never got an official diagnosis of autism, his family said that they suspected he might be on the spectrum. He spent most of his time alone in his apartment watching television at night and sleeping through the day. He reported feeling “depressed and drinking too much sometimes”. He and Toni met several times a week to create a resume, apply for jobs and practice his interview skills. Because John already had a history of reliable employment it only took him two weeks to get his first interview and they hired him on the spot to stock shelves and maintain product inventory.
John was worried that he would sleep in and be late to work because his shift starts so early in the morning. So he and Toni created a plan to make sure he would get to bed and wake up on time.
Today John works full time and receives benefits. John says “Work is going really well. They like my work ethic and tell me they appreciate me. It feels good to be financially independent again. To be productive. That is a great feeling.”
Wanting to make friends and be “normal”
Amy got a diagnosis at age 16. She started to meet with Toni to understand how autism makes her unique and learn friendship strategies. Toni matched her with a couple other teens on the spectrum so they could practice social skills like asking questions, knowing when to listen and planning activities together. Amy is learning how to set healthy limits for herself and come up with creative solutions to address her sensitivity to noises so that she can participate in activities she wants to do with her new friends.
Her parents report she is happier and less anxious about trying new things now that she understands what is “normal” for her and has friends who relate to her. Her doctor has been reducing her anxiety medication with the goal of Amy being med free.