Although I loved my work in Washington, California was beckoning me back to the bay area. I returned to the Children’s Health Council as a speech pathologist and was able to work with psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists and special education teachers in a collaborative environment that really set the tone for what would one day become ALLS.
To broaden my experience, I became affiliated with Sequoia Hospital, Visiting Nurses Association, schools and regional centers. I was able to see how all the puzzle pieces fit together and how each discipline influenced each other. Having seen the importance of collaboration across all therapeutic settings, I was motivated to create a practice that allowed for creative teamwork. And so in 1980, I went out on my own and opened a small nook of a practice, called it Associated Learning & Language Specialists, and got to work.
Within five years, I had brought on other speech pathologists and an occupational therapist. California schools were in dire need of well-trained speech and occupational therapists. I found myself receiving call after call from districts in need of support services. So in addition to providing therapy in the clinic, we were training, teaching and providing direct services to the schools. If I had to estimate how many lives we touched reaching out to the school districts, I’d have to say over 35,000.
In 1992, we moved to a larger space, and in 1995 we expanded our offices to include a large occupational therapy gym and infant-toddler class. We were busting at the seams with little ones learning how to experience their environment and grow in their developmental and social skills. We then quickly added two more infant-toddler/preschool sites with two classes in a small house and three at a church school site.
It was about this time that my second born child was showing language and motor delays of his own. Of course I couldn’t be satisfied with anything else offered and we moved into the arena of special education preschool and kindergarten. As he grew, it became more evident that he was not the only one who needed specialized classes. It was the need of these children that motivated me to start Arbor Bay School for children K-8th grades. We worked hard to find an inclusive team with cutting edge programs such as The Slingerland Method, Making Math Real, Handwriting Without Tears, Lindamood Bell and extensive other programs. And these children who were once floundering had now found a safe home in which to learn and blossom into the best version of themselves.
In 2003, we took a big leap of faith and designed our own space in Redwood Shores, just down the street from the Oracle building. We continued to provide cutting edge, collaborative, therapeutic interventions while overlooking the beautiful bay. My team worked diligently to provide both client and family focused therapy while educating ourselves on techniques such as The Hanen Program®, P.R.O.M.P.T., iLs, SOS Feeding Program, SCERTS Model, PRT, DIR Floortime, Interactive Metronome, Kaufman Praxis, SIPT, and other research based programs developed to support children on the autism spectrum and those with developmental delays. To date, ALLS has provided services to over 21,000 California families through our clinic and home programs.
As we encountered people in need with different learning styles, we researched newly founded methods to increase learning opportunities. These included pioneering the Arrowsmith Program® for neuro-cognitive enhancement in California, opening a second office in the Silicon Valley, and offering the Learning Steps Program for children who need more support to learn. In our Learning Steps Program, we are able to take the best of all that we know and individually design thorough programs for students with multifaceted needs. We like to call it the ALLS Method.
I will continue to be an active force to bring about opportunities for children who learn differently. And now it’s time to take what we know, and not only share it locally, but globally. ALLS is dedicated to serving all children, not just those in Northern California.