Greetings, I am Heather Hall, representing Special Needs: Embracing Autism. Originally hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, I have spent my entire life in this vibrant city. My current household consists of four feline companions named Smokey, Nala, Buffy, and Willow, alongside my loyal canine companion, Marty. It seems that I am part of a small minority who have chosen to remain in Phoenix, cherishing its unique qualities.
After witnessing the daily struggles and witnessing how individuals with disabilities were treated while working in an after-school program, I made a profound decision to pursue a career in special education. It became clear to me that I wanted to dedicate myself to assisting those with disabilities and fostering a shift in society’s perception of them. I am proud to share that I have achieved one of my goals: obtaining a bachelor’s degree in special education from ASU.
After a series of interviews, I eventually landed a position in an autism class, which proved to be a turning point in my career. As part of my professional development, I had the opportunity to attend a TEACCH training in North Carolina, where I instantly developed a deep appreciation for this model and the autism population it serves. Eager to make a difference, I dove into teaching headfirst during my inaugural year and simultaneously pursued a master’s degree. I successfully completed my master’s in special education, focusing on consultation and collaboration, further enriching my understanding and expertise in the field.
After a few years of teaching, I felt a strong desire to pass on my knowledge to future special education teachers. It was around this time that I found a teaching position at Grand Canyon University. This opportunity allowed me to combine my passion for special education with my goal of educating aspiring teachers. At Grand Canyon University, I had the pleasure of teaching night classes to college students who were eager to learn the skills and information necessary for becoming successful teachers. Sharing my experiences and providing them with the tools they needed was a fulfilling experience for me. I enjoyed guiding them, sharing insights, and helping shape their perspectives as they prepared for their future careers. What made this journey even more rewarding was that I was able to continue teaching students with autism during the day. This allowed me to maintain a direct connection with the students I had been working with, ensuring that I continued making a positive impact on their lives. By balancing my role as an instructor at Grand Canyon University and a teacher for students with autism, I demonstrated my unwavering commitment to the field of special education. I firmly believed in the importance of equipping others with the necessary skills and knowledge while also directly serving the needs of students with autism. The experiences gained from teaching college students and working with students with autism enriched my understanding of special education. These experiences provided me with valuable insights to share with others, allowing me to make a lasting contribution to the field and to the lives of individuals with special needs.
While instructing college students, I conducted research and stumbled upon Teachers Pay Teachers, which intrigued me. I shared this discovery with my students, and one of them suggested that I should consider selling the products I was creating and sharing. Intrigued by the idea, I decided to explore this opportunity. After posting a few products, I realized that something was missing from my offerings. Upon reflection, I discovered my true passion lay in working with student behaviors and helping them make positive changes to enhance their success. Consequently, I made the decision to further my education by pursuing a certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis. I recently completed the program at Ball State University, and I am currently focused on preparing for and passing the BCBA exam.
Having spent 16 years teaching in a self-contained classroom, I was recently presented with a remarkable opportunity to impart my expertise in special education to aspiring teachers. I accepted the position of a special education clinical assistant professor at ASU, and it has been an incredibly fulfilling experience. I am grateful for the chance to share my personal journey and educate future teachers on the joys and rewards of teaching students with disabilities.
I eagerly anticipate what lies ahead in my future. My aspiration is to communicate my educational journey with students who have autism to fellow educators and families. My goal is to offer valuable insights from my own experiences, with the hope that others can benefit and enhance their interactions with children on the autism spectrum.
Remember to go out their, raise awareness, and embrace autism!