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Amanda Keating of Tampa, Florida is a consultant for the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of South Florida. She provides training and technical assistance to families and professionals. Her research interests include parenting, disparities within mental health and educational systems, and the use of technology in social services. Prior to working with USF, Ms. Keating worked with the Florida Department of Children and Families, District 14, Developmental Disabilities Program, where she was the Human Services Program Supervisor for Polk, Highlands, and Hardee counties. Ms. Keating holds Master's degrees in Counseling and Clinical Psychology and is currently completing a Doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. She has specialized training in Adlerian Psychotherapy, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, and Applied Behavior Analysis. In addition to her work at USF, Ms. Keating is an adjunct professor at Webster University and serves on a number of boards and advisory committees. Because of her knowledge and consulting experience in Autism and related disabilities, Ms. Keating offered herself as a FAVACA volunteer and made an invaluable contribution twice in Jamaica during the 2006 and 2007 conferences sponsored by the Jamaican Combined Disabilities Association and the Rotary Club. The sole purpose of these conferences was to educate teachers, caregivers and the public about children with Autism and related disabilities.
AUTISM GAINS PUBLIC ATTENTION IN JAMAICA
In the past three years, the matter of Autism and developmental and mental health disorders has just begun to gain public attention in Jamaica; however, there is a significant demand for knowledge on how to treat issues relating to autism. In order to help deal with the growing public attention towards Autism, the formation of a support group, the Jamaica Autism Support Association (JASA), was created and resulted in more persons (parents, caregivers, health and educational professionals) seeking information on the topic. Yet, the expertise in the field does not reside in Jamaica, especially in the field of Applied Behavior Management leading, Monica Bartley of the Rotary Club of Kingston and JASA to request assistance from FAVACA. Longtime volunteer, Amanda Keating, a consultant for the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of South Florida traveled to Kingston, Jamaica July 17-20, 2008 to focus on assessing Kingston's ability to begin developing personnel to address the needs of children with autism or other developmental and mental health disorders. Keating visited several facilities serving children with autism for an interchange of ideas relating to best practices on issues raised by service providers. While in Jamaica, Keating spoke at the annual autism conference on the topic of Applied Behavior and Analysis in Children with Autism. Over 100 professionals and families attended the conference. Keating has since received many follow-up emails from participants inquiring about places in Florida to obtain supplies, intervention, training or materials while visiting. Many of the teachers and caregivers have also expressed their interest in implementing many of the new techniques from the presentations made at the conference.
JAMAICANS RALLY TO CONFRONT AUTISM. Monica Bartley, Chairperson, Jamaican Combined Disabilities Association and Rotary Club of Kingston partnered to request expertise in behavioral problems related to children with autism spanning childhood to adolescence for their April 2006 Coping with Autism Conference. As the number of children with autism increases, the need to educate teachers, caregivers, and the general public about children with the disability becomes critical. First time FAVACA volunteers Amanda Keating, Tampa, and Bobbie Vaughn, St. Petersburg, traveled April 20-23, 2006 to present at the Conference and consult with participant organizations. Keating is the coordinator of human services at the University of South Florida and an adjunct professor at Webster University. Vaughn works with the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) at the University of South Florida where she does research focusing on children with disabilities entering pre-kindergarten special education. More than 120 special education teachers, parents, caregivers and health professionals participated in the Conference.