Kelsey Aughey, B.S. in Psychology
Educator, Hirsch Academy
GKTC ACTS Endorsed Practitioner

Kelsey’s love for family has led to her love for teaching. Thanks to the letter boards she has been able to interact with her cousin in a way they never could before. This has inspired her to become an educator who serves inclusive classroom settings that welcome both speaking and nonspeaking students. Kelsey works with private students in Atlanta, Georgia.  She has also provided supplementary service to Growing Kids Therapy Center (GKTC) #S2C Spelling to Communicate communities in Toronto, Canada and Auckland, New Zealand. Kelsey also serves as a Senior Mentor for practitioners studying in the GKTC Accessing Community Through Spelling (ACTS) training cohort program.

Kelsey presented a poster presentation at the TASH “Gateway to Equity” conference in 2016.  She also co-facilitated hands-on letter board practical application sessions at the ICI Summer Institute in 2016. She looks forward to sharing her experience and supporting attendees at the Motormorphosis inaugural conference!

PRESENTATION SATURDAY: Engaging the Body and Mind in Group Learning

Dillan Barmache

I am a person who is in total control – in only my dreams.  In reality, I am an autistic 17-year-old who always seems to be not connected.  To everyone else, I have only a limited experience of life because I have only been able to communicate in typing for a few years.  Now I’m here to let the world know that I have been waiting for years to not be overwhelmed by autism so I could get my real thoughts out.

For most of my life I existed as a non-verbal student in an autistic class. The interventions were the standard ones that left me trapped.  In 7th grade, I had the life-changing experience of meeting someone who believed that I am a real person with a mind intact and worth getting to know.  Through that supportive relationship, I learned to calm my internal sensory challenges so that I could type out, letter by letter, my thoughts.  Fast forward four years, and now I am in all general education classes in 11th grade.  In high school, I have been able to get the education and experience I have always wanted.

To everyone with or without autism, I hope you can find some hope and meaning from the experiences I have had, and how they have given me my desire to change how we are treated.

PRESENTATION SATURDAY: Personal Perspectives - Nonspeaking Communicator Panel

Niko Boskovic is a 16-year-old who lives in Portland, Oregon. He started to attend a regular high school two years ago after being homeschooled and attending an ABA program for 8 years.

He finds out his life was transformed after he learned to communicate using a letterboard. Now he wants to apply his energy to changing the world to be a better place for people who aren't verbal. Although he is young, he believes he is part of a civil rights movement that will have a profound impact on American society.

PRESENTATION SATURDAY: Personal Perspectives - Nonspeaking Communicator Panel

Janine Caguicla, B.A.
Educator, Growing Kids Therapy Center, GKTC ACTS Endorsed Practitioner

Janine attended the University of Virginia and earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology and in Cognitive Science with a concentration in Linguistics. Janine's academic interest in cognitive science and her love for kids have melded into a passion for equipping and supporting students at GKTC with skills to #S2C, Spell to Communicate, via low tech and high tech AAC. She is a firm believer in inclusion, and as an educator she values the principles of Universal Design for Learning.

Janine is proud to serve as as a Mentor for practitioners completing the GKTC Accessing Community Through Spelling (ACTS) training cohort program.

PRESENTATION SATURDAY: Engaging the Body and Mind in Group Learning

Shelley Carnes, MS OTR/LHead of School, The Hirsch Academy

Along with being a co-founder of Hirsch Academy, Shelley is an Expert DIR FLoortime Provider and Trainer and proud participant of the first cohort of Accessing Community Through Spelling (ACTS). At The Hirsch Academy she found her true love of working side by side with teachers, and where she found tremendous meaning in collaborating and implementing creative sensory and motor supports into the classroom. Shelley has a bachelors degree in Rehabilitation Science from Auburn University, and an additional bachelor/masters in Occupational Therapy from Brenau University. She is most passionate about listening and learning from her students, as well as from her autistic mentors and friends.

PRESENTATION SATURDAY:  Keynote Address: Creating Change through Motor Practice

Andrea Darroch  My name is Andrea. Mum to Becky, who is now 11 years old. I live in Auckland, New Zealand with my husband Ian. I have been homeschooling Becky since she was six years old.

I first met Elizabeth in 2015 when Annette (the other New Zealand mum on the panel) and I traveled to Sydney to observe at one of her workshops. Becky participated in her first workshop with Elizabeth in April 2016 and it is from there that our letterboard journey really took off.

We currently have 11 families in Auckland who have participated in the workshops. Our community is small, but interest in and information about the letterboards is slowly increasing. I am passionate that our NZ families have a good support network to help them in their letterboard journey, and am always looking for ways in which we can do better.

PRESENTATION SUNDAY 1:30-3:00:  Personal Perspectives, Parent Panel

Casey DePriest, MT-BC, CEO/Founder of Optimal Rhythms has been providing clinical music therapy services since 1995. Her work led her team to #RethinkAutism.  Casey founded ACCESS Academy, a private therapeutic day school, in 2014.   She was recognized as a 2014 Courier & Press Health Care Hero and Optimal Rhythms/ACCESS Academy received a Leadership Evansville award in 2015 in the area of Education for innovative work in the community and dedication to individuals and families affected by autism.

The Optimal Rhythms team works with nonspeaking and unrealiably speaking students on the autism spectrum and others with complex communication challenges. Using a neurologic approach, they address movement differences and the brain-body disconnect while always presuming competence. Casey and her team assists students in finding their voice and developing reliable communication. This past April, they led the third annual Rethinking Autism Conference in support of Supporting Access to Opportunity through Sensory-Motor and Communication Support.  This summer, Optimal Rhythms, Inc. is offering CAN-DO Camp, a therapeutic day camp program that allows students to demonstrate their true potential with specialized supports for movement and communication.

PRESENTATION SUNDAY 1:30-3:00:  Music and Movement

Karen Dorula, M.S., OTR/L
Occupational Therapist, Growing Kids Therapy Center, GKTC ACTS Endorsed Practitioner

Karen earned her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy from Virginia Commonwealth University. She delivers OT services with a focus on developing motor skills, strength, coordination, and sensory regulation that supports #S2C, Spelling to Communicate, via low and high-tech Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Karen is passionate about helping people with autism use these skills for hobbies and leisure activities. She loves integrating OT work with #S2C because it allows the children to play an integral role in determining which activities are truly meaningful to them.

Karen enjoys supporting students in the greater Washington, DC area and distance GKTC #S2C communities including Atlanta, Georgia. Karen is proud to serve as as a Mentor for practitioners completing the GKTC Accessing Community Through Spelling (ACTS) training cohort program.



PRESENTATION SATURDAY: Personal Perspectives - Nonspeaking Communicator Panel

Dr. Vikram Jaswal
Associate Professor, University of Virginia

Vikram's research focuses on communication in typical and atypical development. One line of work investigates the cognitive and social factors that influence what typically developing children learn from verbal, gestural, and written forms of communication. A second, newer line of work addresses questions about communication in autism—specifically, how some parents and their nonspeaking autistic children develop unconventional but successful ways of communicating with each other.

Research Areas: CognitiveDevelopmental
PRESENTATION SATURDAY: New Directions in Research

Dana Johnson, Ph.D., M.S., OTR/L is the owner of InterPLAY Pediatric Therapy, a private pediatric occupational therapy practice that supports families in the Tampa Bay area. She specializes in working with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders, challenges with emotional and self-regulation, sensory processing, anxiety, ADHD, and other social emotional and mental health diagnoses. Dana is also the Founder and Head of School at InterPLAY Learning Academy a non-profit private school in Tarpon Springs. InterPLAY is the only school in the Tampa Bay and surrounding area that uses the letter boards as a reliable form of communication to support each student’s ability to communicate. Additionally, InterPLAY utilizes a developmental relationship based approach to learning that embraces the child’s passions, strengths and abilities to develop a unique and individualized curriculum.

Dana also works with parents and caregivers to educate and support the understanding of their child’s individual and learning profile. She regularly speaks to various groups about the importance of reliable communication for all students and clients. Dana strives to build relationships with other organizations and professionals so that they can work together to support and advocate for all families.


Matt Hayes is an advocate in the Facilitated Communication Training (FCT) movement. FCT uses physical and verbal support to bring communication to individuals who are speechless. Autistic from birth, Matt began communicating at the age of five through Facilitated Communication Training, an alternative and augmentative form of communication. At age 6, he wrote his first poem, “Trapped in Silence”. A member of the Saint Louis Poetry Society since the age of 15, he is an active participant in their writers’ workshops. Currently the subject of a PBS documentary "My Voice: One Man's Journey to Overcome the Silence of Autism,"  Matt is eager to build bridges between autists and neurotypical individuals everywhere. His primary writing focus is poetry. Reading the works of poets eager to expand the boundaries of their craft is both his inspiration and challenge. Matt has spoken at Yale University, presented his works as the featured guest poet at the Telluride Talking Gourds Poetry Society, been interviewed on KOTO radio, was selected as a featured emerging poet on a Daniel Ladinsky CD of poetry, presented at various autism conferences and communication workshops, and regularly contributes critiques to various published poets. He currently collaborates on a forthcoming book of friendship tentatively titled The Possibility of Joy. After years of dedicated practice, Matt is now nearly independent in his typing and is able to speak what he types. A sunshine and water fan, Matt splits his time between a tiny Lake Erie island and his native Saint Louis, Missouri. (Matt Hayes Headshot © Alex Kendall Photography)

PRESENTATION SATURDAY: Personal Perspectives - Nonspeaking Communicator Panel

Fernanda T. Orsati is an Associate Clinical Researcher at the Hussman Institute for Autism, in Maryland.  She provides supports for parents, teachers and individuals with autism to use alternative and augmentative communication (AAC), as well as develops positive supports for individuals who experience behavior challenges. Fernanda is a Psychologist, originally from Brazil, and earned her Ph.D. in Special Education from Syracuse University.

PRESENTATION SUNDAY 1:30-3:00pm: Coaching Parents in Providing Access and Support for Communication: A Research Experience Across AAC Methods

Annette O'Brien  Hi I’m Annette and I’m delighted to be part of this conference. Originally from Ireland we moved to New Zealand when I was 9 years old.  Tom my partner and I have Declan who is 14 years with ASD and Ronan who is 13 years old.  I home school Declan as the Education system was failing him.

We observed spelling to communicate in Sydney in April 2015 and we, (Andrea and I) worked hard to get families on board to ensure we could get an outreach workshop to our shores.  After witnessing what one practitioner achieved with children so similar to our own, nothing was going to stop us from bringing this to New Zealand!  From that very first New Zealand workshop we haven’t looked back. To see the potential your child has is nothing less than overwhelming.

In New Zealand we now have a core group of committed families. Our goal is to grow our community and ensure that other families around New Zealand are aware of this communication tool.

For our family, the letter boards have changed our lives, we now see a brighter future for our son, we’ve been able to get to know Declan in a way that was never previously possible – I now know he’s a poet, he’s passionate about classical music, he’s deeply committed to helping other children find their voice, and a consistent outcome from various lessons we do at home is Declan telling me he wants to show people how smart our kids are and tell them all about the letter boards.

PRESENTATION SUNDAY 1:30-3:00pm: Personal Perspectives: Parent Panel

Meghann Parkinson
Educator, Growing Kids Therapy Center, GKTC ACTS Endorsed Practitioner

Meghann is an amazing educator and letter board champion who completed certification in spelling to communicate via the Association of Excellence for Autism in 2015.  She specializes in working with clients of all ages who are just beginning their journey with Spelling to Communicate, #S2C, on the boards. She enjoys supporting students in the greater Washington, DC area with their academic work; engaging students in challenging curriculum. She has also provided support to GKTC #S2C communities in Sydney, Australia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Meghann is proud to serve as a Senior Mentor for practitioners completing the GKTC Accessing Community Through Spelling (ACTS) training cohort program.

Meghann co-facilitated hands-on letter board practical application sessions at the ICI Summer Institute in 2016. She also completed William & Mary Neurodiversity 101 study in June, 2016. She looks forward to sharing her experience and supporting attendees at the Motormorphosis inaugural conference!

PRESENTATION SATURDAY: Engaging the Body and Mind in Group Learning

Elizabeth Reece is mother to three children.  Calvin, age seven, is her youngest and is a superstar in the metro DC area #S2C community. When Calvin was two, he started seeing Elizabeth Vosseller for traditional speech therapy.  In 2014, when Calvin was four, Elizabeth Vosseller introduced him to the letter board, and he started poking at letters on the three stencils.  A few months later, they tried a short lesson, and his skills have progressed steadily since then.  Calvin is one of GKTC’s original youngest spellers. Elizabeth Reece and Calvin have just completed their first year of homeschooling and look forward to starting another year together in August.

PRESENTATION SUNDAY 1:30-3:00:  Personal Perspectives, Parent Panel

Jessica Sibley graduated with a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from New York University in 2011. She has worked at the Hirsch Academy in Atlanta, GA for the past 10 years and continues to thrive in this nurturing and inspiring environment. Jess started Minds in Motion OT, in July 2015 and works to teach clients purposeful motor and to spell to communicate. Jess also consults with schools to support the inclusion of nonspeaking students. She specializes in helping clients develop a stronger sense of body awareness and purposeful movement by integrating boot camp style exercise and assists clients as they set and accomplish educational, social, physical and personal goals. Jess' Floortime training helped her develop a strong relationship with her clients. Jess has been working the letter boards for over two years and has become a leader in the Atlanta nonspeaking community co-hosting letterboard outreaches, monthly meetings and connecting families. She is also a mentor for Accessing Community Through Spelling (ACTS) Professional Training, supporting new letterboard professionals working with a wide variety of clients. Most importantly, Jess is an avid believer in her clients ability to do anything and everything they put their minds to!


Brent Sullivan is forty-eight years old and lives with four of his friends at Juniper Hill Farms in Pennsylvania.  Seven years ago, Juniper Hill Farms began as a housing model for autistic adults; they are now a family and home.

Brent has been spelling to communicate since 2014. He is actively involved in agricultural work at Juniper Hill where they grow sunflowers to sell at local farmer's markets.  In addition, he is an entrepreneur, ready to meet all your cozy needs via Blankets by Brent!  Brent has been crocheting giant blankets for over 20 years. Each blanket is unique, and chock full of love.

In a lesson on political cartoons and advocacy in 2015, Brent made very clear his area of interest: “Houses for sale! My job needs to be finding houses for autistics.” When asked how this may be illustrated in the form of political cartoon, Brent spelled “Lots of houses for sale but no one lives in them. However there are tons who need homes. Show homeless autistics near the houses for sale."

PRESENTATION SATURDAY: Personal Perspectives - Nonspeaking Communicator Panel

Elizabeth Vosseller, MA, CCC-SLP has been a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist since 1995.

Elizabeth began her career at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC where she began to specialize in autism. From there, Elizabeth spent twelve years as an Assistant Professor at The George Washington University teaching more than twenty different courses to undergraduate and graduate students in both Speech and Hearing Sciences and the Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Elizabeth developed a passion for clinical training through her work with field supervision and training to teachers and SLPs during their graduate studies.

Elizabeth’s greatest joy is working directly with clients and families so she opened her full time private practice, Growing Kids Therapy Center (GKTC) in Herndon, Virginia. In 2013 Elizabeth began using low and high-tech Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), teaching students the purposeful motor skills to Spell to Communicate.  Elizabeth hosts interns from varied service fields and developed the Accessing Community Through Spelling (ACTS) professional development program which produces a network of rigorously trained practitioners prepared to work with clients of all profiles.

PRESENTATION SATURDAY:  Accessing Community Through Spelling

Casey L. Woodfield is an Associate Clinical Researcher at the Hussman Institute for Autism. She earned her Ph.D. in Special Education from Syracuse University, where she also worked at the Institute on Communication and Inclusion. Her research focuses on dynamic communication supports, parent coaching, inclusive educational practice, as well as lived experiences at the intersections of educational practice, communicative diversity, and identity.

PRESENTATION SUNDAY 1:30-3:00pm: Coaching Parents in Providing Access and Support for Communication: A Research Experience Across AAC Methods