There is an old Chinese proverb which states, “When someone shares with you something of value, you have an obligation to share it with others.”… As an organization, we at FATE have learned lessons of tremendous value, and we are deeply committed to sharing what we have learned with others, wherever they may be.
FATE’s Global Initiative was informally launched in 2001, when Ann Varavukala of New Delhi, India was accepted into the Project Pipeline program. Frustrated with her limited ability to teach and work with her son with autism, Ann was inspired to seek more knowledge and a better way to teach communication skills. She met fellow parent advocates in N.J. who led her to Project Pipeline. Ann’s acceptance into Project Pipeline allowed her to receive much needed training in applied behavior analysis (ABA). She returned to India where she provided workshops in ABA to special education teachers in New Delhi.
In 2004, ten teachers who had received extensive training through Project Pipeline volunteered their time to help set up an ABA program at Stepping Stones School in County Meath, Ireland. The top-heavy training and support became the foundation for what has become an impressive pilot ABA/VB program in Europe. Staff members from Stepping Stones, Sarah Devlin, Maria McGarrell, and Oonagh McMahon, all board certified behavior analysts now, returned the favor by volunteering their time and sharing what they have learned along with American behavior analysts Lauren Clark and Tom Caffrey at a FATE sponsored boot camp in Rome Italy.
With well-established programs in Ireland and India, and parents and teachers in those countries actively involved in promoting awareness, FATE again reached out to the international community in June, 2007. FATE board member and Project Pipeline alumna Jessica Walter was part of the team of special education teachers that volunteered their time to go to County Meath, Ireland in 2004. Jessica later visited the El Safa Center for Special Needs Children in Suez, Egypt in 2007 while volunteering for another non-profit group “Where Peace Lives.” She fell in love with the children she met at the school in Egypt, and upon her return home, immediately began to organize a team to go back to Suez to start an ABA program there. The team arrived in Egypt in June 2008, and laid the necessary groundwork for teachers and parents of the El Safa school, as well as teachers from other countries in the region, to implement ABA programs at the local level. FATE team members offered training workshops, ideas and guidance to the local teachers who, in turn, offered their new-found knowledge to colleagues in Egypt and other neighboring countries.
In December of 2007, Lin Qunhao from Conoco-Phillips China contacted FATE to ask for help in establishing an ABA program at the Shining Star School in Shenzhen, Peoples Republic of China. The FATE team responded by offering an introductory level training in Shenzhen in December, 2008. A FATE board certified behavior analyst also visited the school to assess program needs and to make initial recommendations toward implementing their ABA program. Mr. Qunhao then visited the United States and toured public schools in New Jersey with FATE Executive Director Sheilagh Cirillo and Board Member Jessica Walter.
FATE understands that they will receive more requests for help from the international community in the months and years to come. We are working toward accommodating these requests with volunteers forming Global Initiative teams. These teams of well-trained special education teachers dually certified as behavior analysts will provide intensive training through workshops and hands-on support to teachers and parents in other countries. FATE will provide continued support as these local teachers, in turn, share their new-found knowledge by offering workshops throughout their countries and/or regions. FATE’s Global Initiative has already helped many children with autism, their families, and their teachers all over the world. With its continued success, FATE’s Global Initiative can benefit even more individuals affected by autism in the years to come.