An audience of child development professionals and parents filled the Westport Weston Family Y’s Bresslin Room Thursday evening, Apr. 26, for Autism OutLoud, “an evening of hope and information.”
Event organizer Irene Penny introduced speakers Dr. John Burke and Janie Burke, Clinical Directors of Branches of Hope, a Westport-based center for children with special needs. The Burkes led a one-hour discussion on how to identify spectrum disorder indicators and utilize strategies to help children with special needs become successful members of their communities.
“After my son was diagnosed with autism, we were heartbroken to see his world literally shrink because of a lack of effective treatment,” said Penny. “The Pivotal Response Teaching program pioneered by the Burkes helped us assess his support needs and learning style, and now he is thriving.”
Tasha Dennison, Senior Director of the Family Y’s Early Learning Programs and host of the Autism OutLoud, commented afterward that she was particularly impressed with the number of Early Childhood Education professionals who attended the discussion. “Teachers are calling out for more and more information that will ultimately help them to provide appropriate care and guidance to families working with children with special needs,” said Dennison. “As I looked around the room of close to 40 professionals, I thought about the hundreds of local families that they will soon touch.”
One such local expert, Alexa Cohen, Director of the Early Childhood Center at Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport, came away very impressed with the presentation. “Gaining new tools and new contacts to support children and families is always important,” said Cohen. “Dr. Burke’s offer to provide evaluations and guidance will definitely be of great value.”
Dr. Burke has over 35 years of experience working with children, youth, and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders, their families and professionals across the fields of education, mental health, vocational rehabilitation, and others. He also has extensive experience with children with Downs Syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury, and complex learning disorders. He has served on the Faculty at Johns Hopkins University and directed inpatient, outpatient, and community programs at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. He also served as the Director of a nationally recognized Autism Training Center where he developed one of the first online Master’s programs specific to Autism: ABA – Pivotal Response Teaching and Technology.
Ms. Janie Burke, MA, MS has over 20 years of experience working with children with autism and other
similar challenges. She has a BA degree from Franklin and Marshall College, and received two Masters Degrees with Honors, one from Fairfield University in Education and the second from Johns Hopkins University in Special Education with a concentration in Autism. Combining her professional degrees and training with her own personal experiences with family members, Ms. Burke brings knowledge, dedication, and a clear understanding of the importance of having children achieve their full potential.
Branches of Hope is located at 335 Post Road West, Westport, CT and serves families and schools throughout Connecticut and in other states upon requests. If you would like additional information or to schedule an initial consultation session, please call 203-227-3383 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www. branchesofhope.org.