Back to School for Shema Kolainu

It’s that exciting time of year again, when classes begin at Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices. On Tuesday, September 3, 2013, all teachers and staff were in attendance for a day of orientation presentations and workshops. Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices is dedicated to serving children with autism and their families to provide the ultimate care and support, in order to ensure they reach their full potential for independence. Each teacher and assistant must be dedicated to give it their all each and every day.

The morning began at 9:00 am with a presentation given by the school’s Founder and CEO, Dr. Joshua Weinstein. Dr. Weinstein emphasized the importance of attitude, and how important it really is to walk into work everyday with a positive attitude. Children, especially those with autism and other special needs, feed of the positive attitudes of their teachers and therapists.

Dr. Weinstein continued with a recap of Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices’ past activities, included visitors from Singapore’s Ministry of Education, New York City Council members, and inspirational speakers. The staff was also filled in on the success of the 11th Annual Legislative Breakfast, held to honor members of the New York City Council as well as State Legislature, for their outstanding work in the autism community. Finally, Dr. Weinstein discussed Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices’ partner organization, The International Center for Autism Research and Education (ICare4Autism), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to driving collaborations among leading autism researchers to discover the etiology of autism.

Dr. Weinstein reflects, “The new year is an exciting time for both the teachers and the students here at Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices. I look forward to seeing a successful school year for all our children and parents, and for our miracles to occur.”

“I do, we do, you do”

There are many theories and methods professionals apply when working with children and adults with autism. Among them is Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), which Lee Mason utilizes at his Teacher Education Autism Model (TEAM) at the University of Texas San Antonio campus. Mason, an assistant professor in the UTSA Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching, opened the center to offer low-cost ABA services for children and teenagers with autism, utilizing the “I do, we do, you do” approach. According to statistics, 9,000 children and 21,000 are diagnosed with autism in San Antonio, with only 30 board-certified behavior analysts (BCBA’s) are available for therapy services.

TEAM also serves as a teaching environment for graduate students in special education, educational psychology, and the like who are working towards their ABA certification. The center offers a social skills clinic, helping both the students with autism and the graduate students in ABA. This summer, the TEAM members and Mason are working with teenage boys with high-functioning autism, focusing on how to respond to awkward or uncomfortable social settings. The center has been successful thus far, as Mason states,

“We are very happy with the success of the TEAM Center over the past two semesters, but we have a lot of work left to do. We already have more than 100 names of children in need of UTSA’s services on our waiting list. We are also hoping to expand the TEAM center’s services into the evening hours, which would benefit school-aged children with autism.” [i]

Lee Mason is opening the doors for other professionals to create centers like TEAM, which would benefit both the children and adults with autism receiving therapy, and the graduate students who are working toward their ABA certifications. To read more about Mason’s TEAM Center, click here.


[i] “UTSA Today” Meet a Roadrunner: UTSA’s Lee Mason is helping teens manage autism. 31 Jul 2013. Web. <http://www.utsa.edu/today/2013/07/leemason.html>